HAMAMEUS – witch hazel

These beautiful hardy shrubs flower in winter and early spring, and often have exceptional autumn leaf colour. The starry flowers are borne on the leafless branches and in many kinds are deliciously scented.

Suitable site and soil. The witch hazels prefer good, deep soils, but do not like heavy clay. They are not lime haters, but chalky soils should be improved by the addition of bulky organic matter. They are happy in sun or dappled shade.

Cultivation and care. Plant in autumn or spring. Before planting, dig in peat or leaf mould, as hamameiis like to root into it when young. If your shrub tends to spread and be flat- topped, train up a leader by staking a branch upright until it becomes strong enough to stand on its own.

Propagation. Layer in summer outdoors. Patience is needed, as it will take two years to produce well-rooted new plants. Air layering is also done in summer. Seeds sown as soon as ripe usually take over two years to germinate.

Recommended varieties. Hamamelis mollis has large, soft, hazel-like leaves, and large, soft yellow, sweetly scented flowers in winter. ‘Goldcrest’ has large flowers with orange bases to the petals. Hamamelis x intermedia varieties are large-leafed, large shrubs with crimpled, sometimes scented flowers and good autumn leaf colour. ‘Diane’ has red flowers; ‘Jelena’ has coppery-orange flowers and good autumn colour.

Pests and diseases. Trouble free.


When you plant a new witch hazel, water it well and cover the soil around it with a thick layer of organic material. This will improve the soil structure and prevent evaporation.

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