Cultivating and Nurturing Witch Hazel: Tips for Growing this Enchanting Plant


Witch hazel, scientifically known as Hamamelis virginiana and Hamamelis japonica, is a notable plant that has been collected and grown for centuries. It is a plant that is steeped in wisdom and has a long history of use. In fact, it has been included in many herbal remedies and skincare products due to its healing properties.

In the gardening world, witch hazel is a light in the extreme winter months. It is a gardener’s delight, with its hybrids offering a burst of color and beauty when most plants lie dormant. The Hamamelis virginiana, commonly known as American witch hazel, can be found in many gardens and landscapes. This plant can grow up to 15-20 feet tall and provides a stunning display of yellow flowers in the late fall to early winter. The Hamamelis japonica, commonly known as Japanese witch hazel, is a smaller shrub that grows up to 8-10 feet tall. Its flowers also provide a sign that winter is almost over, typically blooming in late winter or early spring.

However, the two species do differ in some notable ways. While the Hamamelis virginiana typically grows as a shrub, the Hamamelis japonica can be trained to grow as a small tree with proper pruning. Another difference is the flowering time, with the Hamamelis virginiana blooming in the late fall and the Hamamelis japonica blooming in late winter or early spring.

In terms of care, witch hazel is relatively low-maintenance. It can tolerate a variety of soil types, but prefers well-drained, acidic soil. It is best planted in mid-October to allow it to establish roots before winter sets in. Witch hazel should be planted at the same level it was in the container, and the soil should be tightly packed around the root ball. Once planted, the roots should be watered thoroughly, but not excessively. Established witch hazel plants are fairly drought-tolerant and do not require regular watering.

For pruning, it is best to remove any dead or damaged branches in early spring before the leaves open. This will help maintain the plant’s shape and allow for maximum flowering. Additionally, if the witch hazel becomes overgrown, it can be pruned back quite heavily to control its size and shape. However, pruning should be done carefully to avoid cutting off too much of the foliage, as this can affect the plant’s ability to produce flowers.

Witch hazel has many uses in both the garden and beyond. In the landscape, it can be used as a specimen plant, adding interest with its unique flowers and foliage. It can also be used as a natural screen or hedge due to its height and dense growth habit. Beyond the garden, witch hazel is commonly used as a natural remedy for a variety of skin issues, including acne, eczema, and insect bites. The leaves and bark of the witch hazel plant are distilled to create witch hazel extract, which is commonly found in many skincare products.

In conclusion, growing and caring for witch hazel can be a rewarding experience for any gardener. With its beautiful flowers, low-maintenance requirements, and versatile uses, it is a plant that should not be overlooked. Whether you choose to grow the American witch hazel or the Japanese witch hazel, both species will add beauty and interest to your garden year after year.

Witch hazel: all about care, location, and varieties of the shrub

Purple witch hazel, also known as Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Aphrodite’, is a popular shrub that can be grown in various locations. It blooms in late winter or early spring, and its showy orange-red flowers are a beautiful addition to any garden.

To properly care for purple witch hazel, it is important to handle it with care. This species can be collected for fertilization purposes, but it is usually only done by professionals. The bloom period for purple witch hazel starts in mid-October, making it a great choice for planting during that time of year. It is not only a notable shrub for its blooms, but also for its necessary role in designing a garden.

When it comes to the location for planting witch hazel, it is important to consider the roots. This shrub thrives in Georgia, as it is not sensitive to the natural temperature and can withstand long periods of extreme heat. It doesn’t require much food, making it a low-maintenance plant that can be grown in a variety of soils. Frost can be an issue, but with proper care and handling, witch hazel can survive even in colder climates.

When it comes to pruning witch hazel, it is best to wait until it is fully dormant in late winter or early spring. It is recommended to cut back the larger branches, leaving behind alternate branching for the best results. Most witch hazel varieties can be pruned on a daily basis to promote a spreading and widely blooming shape. However, it is important to be sensitive to the shrub’s ability to sucker.

One common issue with witch hazel is disease. If there are any signs of disease, it is best to take action during the summer months to prevent it from spreading. Witchhazel hybrids, a mix between the purple and orange-red varieties, can be particularly sensitive to disease.

Overall, witch hazel is a beautiful and versatile shrub that can add a pop of color to any garden. Whether it’s the purple variety or one of its hybrids, witch hazel is a perfect addition for those looking to grow a low-maintenance plant with unique blooming properties.

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Witch Hazel Properties, Species, and Varieties

Witch hazel, scientifically known as Hamamelis, is a flowering plant that belongs to the family Hamamelidaceae. It is native to North America and Asia and is commonly grown for its medicinal properties and attractive blooms. Witch hazel species and varieties have different characteristics, making them suitable for various purposes in the garden and landscape.

One of the most common species of witch hazel is Hamamelis virginiana, commonly known as the common witch hazel. It grows up to 10-20 feet tall and produces vibrant yellow flowers in the late fall. The twigs and stems of this species are commonly collected for medicinal purposes as they contain healing properties.

Another popular variety is Hamamelis japonica, known as Japanese witch hazel. It has a more delicate appearance with brownish-red flowers that bloom in the late winter or early spring. The lower-growing habit of this variety makes it an ideal choice for small gardens or rockeries.

There are also cultivated varieties, or cultivars, of witch hazel that have been bred carefully to showcase specific colors and characteristics. Some notable cultivars include ‘Diane,’ which has deep red blooms, and ‘Arnold Promise,’ which has golden yellow flowers. These cultivars offer a wider range of choices for gardeners and landscape enthusiasts.

When planting witch hazel, it is important to choose the right location. They prefer well-amended soil that is rich in organic matter and drains well. Witch hazel thrives in partial shade, making it an ideal plant for afternoon shade in a garden. Mulching around the base of the plant can help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.

Once established, witch hazel is relatively low-maintenance and does not require frequent watering. However, during dry periods, it is important to water the plant to ensure its health. Witch hazel has a tendency to sucker, which means it may send up new shoots around the base of the plant. These suckers can be cuttings and replanted elsewhere in the garden if desired.

In conclusion, witch hazel is a versatile plant that offers both aesthetic appeal and medicinal benefits. With its wide variety of species and cultivars, there is a witch hazel plant for every garden or landscape. Whether you are interested in its healing properties or simply enjoy its beautiful blooms, witch hazel is a plant worth considering for your gardening endeavors.

Planting witch hazel in the garden

Witch hazel, scientifically known as Hamamelis, is a notable plant in the witch hazel family. It is widely grown for its showy flowers that bloom in the winter, adding a pop of color to the garden when most other plants are dormant. The flowers come in various colors, including orange, yellow, and pink.

Witch hazel is resistant to diseases and deer, making it an ideal choice for gardeners who face these issues. Once established, witch hazel is a low-maintenance plant that requires little care. Its natural ability to handle extreme winter conditions makes it a popular choice for gardeners in colder regions.

When planting witch hazel, it is essential to choose a location with well-draining soil. Witch hazel prefers a slightly acidic soil but can tolerate a range of pH levels. Before planting, it is advisable to dig a hole that is as deep as the pot and twice as wide, allowing ample space for the roots to grow.

Witch hazel is available in various types, with Hamamelis intermedia being the most widely grown. Some notable cultivars include ‘Diane’ with its red-orange flowers and ‘Jelena’ with its coppery orange flowers. When choosing a cultivar, it is important to carefully read the plant’s label to ensure it is suitable for your specific garden conditions.

Transplanting witch hazel is best done in the fall when the plant is dormant. This allows the roots to establish before the winter sets in. It is important to handle the plant’s roots with care during transplanting to avoid any damage.

After planting, witch hazel should be watered thoroughly to ensure the roots are adequately hydrated. During the first growing season, it is important to water the plant regularly, especially during dry spells. Once established, witch hazel is relatively drought-tolerant.

Pruning witch hazel is generally not necessary, as they have a naturally attractive shape. However, if pruning is desired, it is best done after flowering. The plant can be pruned to remove any dead or damaged wood and to maintain its shape.

Witch hazel can also be propagated through various methods, such as cuttings and seed. Softwood cuttings taken in late spring or early summer have a higher success rate. When growing witch hazel from seed, it is important to stratify the seeds by placing them in pots and exposing them to alternate periods of light and cold to simulate winter conditions.

In conclusion, planting witch hazel in the garden can add a touch of beauty to any landscape. With its showy flowers and attractive foliage, it is a plant that will surely grab attention. Whether you live in Iowa or any other region, witch hazel is a versatile plant that can thrive in a wide range of climates. Its high resistance to diseases and deer make it a popular choice among gardeners. By carefully selecting the right cultivar and providing proper care, you can enjoy the beauty of witch hazel all year round.

✿ Read More: Gardening Tips and Advice.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.