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Witch Hazel Growing Profile

Hamamelis virginiana

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WitchHazelFlickrscott.zona.jpg

Witch hazel features interesting flowers and changing leaves in the fall.

Image by scott.zona under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License WitchHazelFlowersFlickrpellaea.jpg

The flowers on witch hazel have petals that resemble coconut.

Image by scott.zona under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License WitchHazelFruitFlickrH.C.Williams.jpg

Witch hazel fruits hold four seeds

Image by H.C. Williams under a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License

Overview of Witch Hazel:

Most people are familiar with witch hazel because of its use in skin care as an astringent. It is a large shrub that is noteworthy for being one of the last species to flower. Witch hazel is moderately drought tolerant and adds winter interest with leaves that turn yellow in the fall.

 

Latin name:

The botanical name for this species is Hamamelis virginiana and it is part of the Hamamelidaceae family. Other examples of plants in this family include dwarf fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii) and the Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica.)

Common Names:

You may see this shrub called witch hazel, American witch hazel and common witch hazel

Preferred USDA Hardiness Zones:

The best zones for this plant are Zones 4-8. It is from eastern North America.

Size & Shape:

Though it can sometimes grow as large as 30' tall and 25' wide, witch hazel is commonly 10-15' wide and tall.

This shrub's shape is open and irregular, rounded or vase-shaped.

Exposure:

Witch hazel needs full sun to partial shade.

Foliage/ Flowers/Fruit:

The oval, toothed leaves are 4-8" long and 2-4" wide. They are reddish-bronze when they first appear, turning to green. In fall, they become yellow or orange before dropping.

This is one of the last shrubs to produce flowers. The small, fragrant yellow blossoms that look like shredded coconut appear in late autumn/early winter.

The fruit are small four part seed pods.

Design Tips:

Use witch hazel in shrub borders, parking strips, and as a screen.

This is a good shrub to add fall and winter interest, especially since this is one of the last to bloom.

It is moderately drought tolerant once the roots are established.

This shrub has some resistance to pollution so is suitable for inclusion in urban landscapes.

Growing Tips:

Witch hazel prefers moist acidic soil, though it can adapt to most types.

Seed propagation is the best method as cuttings are difficult to start.

Maintenance/Pruning:

Witch hazel only needs pruning to maintain the overall shape you desire or to take care of any parts that are dead, damaged or diseased.

Pests & Diseases:

There are no major pests or diseases. There may be leaf galls from two types of aphids, but they are generally harmless. The saddled prominent caterpillar and the Eastern tent caterpillar feed on the leaves.

Witch hazel may be affected by fungal leaf spots or powdery mildew.

Additional Witch Hazel Facts:

Forked branches from this plat were used to "divine" water or gold. The branches were said to pull downward when water or gold was present underground.

Witch hazel is often used as an astringent in beauty care products. It also helps reduce itching and swelling in problems like hemorrhoids.

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