Witch Hazels (Hamamelis) provide delight in the garden year-round. Not only do they brighten these late winter days with their bright, fragrant spidery blooms decorating their bare branches; they turn around and repeat the show all over again in the fall with spectacular leaf color.
Most Witch Hazels have a nice open form that provide sculptural interest even when these shrubs shed their leaves in winter.
Their vase-shaped growth habit also provides a nice opportunity to use other plants at their base – think Hellebores, Heucheras, or early spring-flowering bulbs. Flowers appear in early February and continue through March, with thick, pleated-looking leaves emerging once flowering is finished.
An exposure with morning sun is best for Witch Hazels. They also look wonderful in a wooded shade garden - just make sure they get some bright light for the best flower production and fall color.
Witch Hazels aren’t the best choice for a hot spot in your yard, even though you will read that they will tolerate full sun (and you will see them looking spectacular in downtown Ashland in full sun). However, you’ll find that they are prone to leaf burn in the hot summer sun, and you’ll need to mulch them heavily and water more often if you choose to plant them in a hot exposure.
Overall, Witch Hazels are easy, low-maintenance shrubs. They do best with regular watering - including deep soaks throughout the summer months - and prefer a fertile, humus-rich soil. They’re also tolerant of clay soils as long as they are well drained.
Witch Hazels are slow to moderate growers that generally only need pruning to control their size and shape. As with most spring flowering shrubs, they prefer to be pruned in late spring once they have finished blooming. Avoid fall or winter pruning, or you’ll end up cutting off the next seasons flower buds!
Fun Plant Trivia: Witch Hazels are closely related to one of our favorite small shade trees: Parrotia persica (Persian Ironwood). Both plants tend to have outstanding fall color.
Here are some of the varieties we generally carry (check our current retail availability for details):
'Amethyst' - Rounded shrub, 8' to 10' tall. with reddish-purple flowers
'Arnold's Promise'- Vase shaped with fragrant yellow flowers and yellow fall color. 12-15' tall and wide.
'Diane'- Rounded form with red, mildly fragrant flowers and orange-red fall color. 8-12’ tall by 12-15’ wide.
'Jelena'- vase shaped vigorous grower with very fragrant large copper-orange flowers and orange-yellow fall color. 8-12' tall and wide.
'Sunburst'- upright, with lemon yellow blooms up to 1 inch long, early bloomer and yellow-orange fall color. 9-12' tall by 6-8' wide.