PLANT LIBRARY: Why I love WITCH HAZEL (and You Should Too!)

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Tuck

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Tuck

One of the most unusual, but beautiful, of the winter blooming shrubs is Witch Hazel. The common Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana and Chinese Witch Hazel, Hamamelis mollis. These winter-blooming beauties can reach heights of 12' tall and wide and also have great yellow fall color. They are most known, however, for their spider-like yellow flowers in late winter, early spring. They are profuse, precede the leaves and have a light spicy fragrance.
Witch Hazel is an open and rounded shrub in shape. Use it in the landscape as a nice border plant or single specimen. They are an especially nice addition to the winter landscape,  due to their unusual bloom time.

Growing Requirements:

Hardiness Zone: 5-8
Sun and Soil: Grow Witch Hazel in full sun/part shade. The sunnier, the better for best flowering. Requires well-drained, acidic soil to perform its best.

Flowers and Foliage:

The oval leaves are approximately 4-8" long and 2-4" wide. As the leaves emerge, they are reddish-bronze, turning to green. They become yellow/orange in fall for a great display.

The Bright yellow blooms emerge in March, before the leaves.This is one of the last winter-blooming shrubs to produce flowers. The blossoms have a pleasant, spicy fragrance. After flowering, the fruit are formed which is a small four-part seed pod.

Outstanding Varieties:

  • Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Diane’- Copper-Red Blooms
  • Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Jelena’- Copper-Orange Blooms
  • Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Pallida’- Pale Yellow Blooms

About the Author:

Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a registered landscape architect and active in the landscape design/build industry for over 30 years. Her service area includes Greensboro, High Point, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill and the Raleigh NC metro areas. For additional inspiring project pictures, design ideas, or great garden gifts, take a look at these websites: