Plant of the Month: Witch Hazel

January 11, 2017

After the holidays are over, January can be a month without much color. But, have no fear! Witch Hazel will save the day with its bright, fragrant blooms!

Witch Hazel is a deciduous shrub that comes in many different varieties which range in size from medium to large and have yellow to orange to red flowers in mid to late winter with good fall foliage.

Arnold Promise Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’) is a late winter bloomer variety with spidery, golden yellow flower clusters. In Spring after it has bloomed, foliage is deep green and turns to an attractive yellow orange color in the fall. It has a vase shaped form and spreading habit that works well in woodland gardens, shrub borders, or even as a specimen plant.

Arnold Promise Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise')

Arnold Promise Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’) Photo Courtesy of Chew Valley Trees

Another great variety is the Washington Park Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis ‘Washington Park’) which was actually first produced at the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle. Its mildly fragrant flowers have the same spidery look as Arnold Promise but the petals are a light purplish red color and bloom in mid winter. On its rounded form, blue green spring foliage matures to bright orange yellow in fall. The Washington Park Witch Hazel can work as a screening shrub and looks good in woodland gardens and borders.

Washington Park Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis 'Washington Park') by Missouri Botanical Garden

Washington Park Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis ‘Washington Park’) Photo Courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden

One more notable variety is the Glowing Embers Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Glowing Embers’). Different than the other 2 varieties, Glowing Embers Witch Hazel has a low growing form. The lightly scented, narrow, spindly flower petals have yellow tips transitioning to red near the center giving it a light orange glow from a distance in mid winter. Foliage is light green in spring/summer and changes to shades of orange and red in the fall.

Glowing Embers Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Glowing Embers')

Glowing Embers Witch Hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Glowing Embers’) Photo Courtesy of MyGarden

Witch Hazel should be planted in consistently moist, but well-drained soils. It prefers full sun to part shade but they will flower the best in full sun. Once established, they require little maintenance except for minor pruning (if needed) in early spring after they have finished blooming.

Do you have a favorite variety of Witch Hazel? Let us know in the comments!

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