Hamamelis (witch hazel)

Hamamelis Yellow Blossom

A very fine winter flowering shrub. Sadly it is not grown as much as it should be in household gardens. The lovely scented flowers are borne before the leaves. If you want good a winter show at height, then you will find it hard to beat. It also provides beautiful autumn leaf colour.

Family: Hamamelidaceae
Botanical Name: Hamamelis
Common Names: Chinese witch hazel, witch hazel

Foliage: Deciduous, broad, oval leaves that turn yellow in winter.

Flowers: Fragrant, spidery flowers, in shades of red, orange and yellow appear on bare branches. Often sweetly scented.

Flowering Period: Winter.

Soil: Moist but well-drained, neutral to acid soil (clay, sand or loam).

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Can be grown in a north, south, east or west-facing aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Shrub or small tree.

Origin: China and North America.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

Planting and Growing Hamamelis

It thrives in fertile, deep loamy soils but not heavy clay. Does well in full sun or dappled shade. Prefers neutral to acidic soils.

Plant in autumn or spring, adding plenty of well rotted organic material or leaf mould during planting. They are slow to get going but will eventually make fairly large shrub, up to 13ft (4m) high.

Train young plants by staking a leading branch upright until it becomes strong enough to support the plant.

Taking Care of Hamamelis

Water thoroughly during dry weather until well established. Mulch with organic matter after flowering and apply a general fertilizer suitable for shrubs.

Pruning Hamamelis

Pruning is not normally necessary except to shape or restrict growth.

Remove suckers from grafted plants.

Pests and Diseases

Can be affected by coral spot and honey fungus.

Propagating Hamamelis

Sown seed in trays as soon as ripe. Can be very slow to germinate. Note: cultivars will not come true to type.

Alternatively, layer a low lying branch in summer. Layering can take up to two years to produce a well-rooted new plant.

Popular Varieties of Hamamelis Grown in the UK

Hamamelis mollis (Chinese Witch Hazel) has large hazel-like leaves and bold yellow, sweetly scented flowers in winter. Height to 11.5ft (3.5m)

Hamamelis mollis 'Goldcrest' produces larger flowers with orange bases to the petals.

Hamamelis vernalis is a large suckering bush with rich autumn orange and red colours. Height from 5 to 13ft (2.5-4m).

Hamamelis x intermedia cultivars are large plants with scented flowers and good autumn leaf colour. Height from 5 to 13ft (2.5-4m).

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' has red flowers. Available at Thompson and Morgan.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' has coppery-orange flowers and good autumn colour. Available at Thompson and Morgan.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Moonlight' is a pale yellow form.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' is a lightly scented bright sulphur-yellow form.