Botanical Name: Leucothoe axillaris
Clusters of white urn-shaped flowers hang from the leaf-axils.
New leaves open maroonish-red and retain that on the leaf margins during the summer before changing back to maroon for the winter.
Dry capsules clustered at leaf-axils, not showy.
Low growing, spreading broadleaf evergreen. Heavily branched creating a dense mass.
2 to 3 feet tall and almost twice that wide.
Prefers shade to full shade but can tolerate full sun.
Southeastern United States
Description: This is an excellent broadleaf evergreen shrub. Although I have seen it grow taller under ideal conditions, it usually will not grow over 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall, and thus it is an ideal item for underplanting rhododendrons. L. axillaris is very heavily branched with green, leathery leaves that are described in the literature as “ovoidlance-shaped”, 2 to 4 inches long. The flowers are white, in clusters borne on the leaf-axils but are rather insignificant. It is as a foliage plant that Coast Leucothoe has its great merit. The stems are tinged with red as are the edges of the leaves during the summer. The new growth is a maroonish-red as is the overall appearance of the plant during the winter. Coast Leucothoe is a native of southeastern United States and is not quite as hardy as Leucothoe catesbaei. We find it to be quite temperature hardy although it is susceptible to wind burn if planted in too open a location. It will tolerate a good deal of shade; and because of its heavily branched habit, it very rarely needs shearing. It is the type of plant that could be used in naturalistic plantings, but also in more formal rhododendron and azalea beds. Being a member of the heath family, it likes the same conditions as rhododendrons and azaleas - this is a good peaty soil with adequate moisture, but also good drainage. Relatively pest and problem free, this is an excellent plant that should be used a lot more than it is.