Witch Hazel Growing Guide
Hamamelis virginiana, Hamamelis mollis, Hamamelis japonica, Hamamelis vernalis, Hamamelis x intermedia
Crop Rotation Group
Moist, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH.
Full sun to part shade.
American witch hazel is extremely cold hardy, tolerating winter temperatures to -34°C (-30°F). Chinese witch hazel and Japanese witch hazel are hardy to only about -23°C (-10°F).
None generally needed.
Single Plants: 4.50m (14' 9") each way (minimum)
Rows: 4.50m (14' 9") with 4.50m (14' 9") row gap (minimum)
Sow and Plant
Non-hybrid witch hazels can be grown from seed, but seedlings may take eight years to reach flowering size. To save growing time, set out purchased plants in spring at about the time of your last frost. Container-grown plants can be transplanted until early summer, but may shed some leaves if set out under stressful conditions. Water young plants regularly, and cover the root zone with an organic mulch to keep the soil moist at all times. Witch hazels become more drought tolerant after the plants are well rooted. These multi-stemmed small trees look great planted alone or in groups of three, allowing 4.5 m (15 feet) between plants. In home landscapes, mature trees to 4.5 to 6 m (15 to 20 feet) tall and wide. Young plants can be held in pots for year, but should be planted in the ground as soon as possible.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.
All witch hazels grow into small, vase-shaped multi-stemmed trees of similar size and appearance. The colour of the thready flowers can vary from yellow to rusty red, but the main difference between witch hazels is bloom time. Native to the eastern US, American witch hazel blooms in autumn, imparting its sweet fragrance as the leaves begin to fall. Blossoms may persist into early winter. Chinese witch hazel produces fragrant blooms in winter, a rare source of interest during the coldest months. Japanese witch hazel blooms in late winter, announcing the early arrival of spring. Most witch hazels turn bright yellow in autumn. Historically, witch hazel bark has been used to make astringent witch hazel.
Cut witch hazel stems make interesting additions to any vase, especially when combined with evergreens. Slow-growing hardwoods, witch hazel trees need little pruning beyond trimming off broken or dead branches whenever they appear. Prune witch hazels in spring, after they have finished flowering. Or, leave the summer-ripening seed pods to be harvested by birds.
Some leaf chewing may occur when witch hazels support native butterfly larvae. Japanese beetles may bother young plants. Deer sometimes eat the foliage, so protect newly planted witch hazels with a wire fence.
Planting and Harvesting Calendar
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