Trees We Love – Witch Hazel

Hamamelis species, Witch Hazel

Witchy Winter ColorWitch Hazel with ice

Not much to say except color, COLOR, COLOUR!  The Witch Hazel is an amazing native that blooms in the late winter to early spring.  There are also cultivars that are Japanese hybrids, but are just as beautiful. The flowers are very durable in the sense that they can with stand the crazy temperature changes of warm to below freezing.  On the warm days the Witch Hazel flowers seem to resemble more of an octopus with many curled tentacles than a flower when closely viewed.  When temperatures drop again the flowers curl back up on themselves and seem to go into hiding until the sun comes shining again.  Another Amethyst Witch Hazelgreat attribute is  that they have bright fall foliage color, yellow-orange or reddish-purple depending on the cultivars.


The Witch Hazel is one of the earliest flowering deciduous tree and has fragrant flowers , which makes for a must have in any garden.  They can be planted as a focal point for a flower bed or tucked in with existing trees. For the best color wow, plant Witch Hazels against a solid back drop, like a  Cryptomeria . They are also nice when planted in herbaceous perennial bed, with something like Lenten Rose, Helleborus orientalis , another early bloomer companion.

Pictures rarely do a plant justice – check them out in person or rather in plant, at some the local open gardens, like Green Springs Garden Park or the U.S. National Arboretum!  You can also learn more about them in “Witch Hazels” by Chris Lane.Jelena


Varieties of Witch Hazel

  • Amethyst- a newer cultivar introduced by Don Shadow in 2003 that has a great red-purple flower with a light scent
  • Arnold Promise – is a strong grower, with bright yellow flowers that are accompanied by a strong sweet fragrance, pictured below
  • Pallida – spreading growth habit, with a strong sweet smell and bright yellow flowers, introduced in 1958 and still considered one of the best
  • Jelena – has orange copper colored flowers with a slight scent, received an Award of Garden Merit by the Horticultural Society in 1993, pictured to the right

Arnold PromiseStatistics

Key feature: Year Round Interest

Plant type:  Understory, flowering tree/ large shrub

Deciduous/evergreen:   Deciduous

Cold hardiness zones: 4-8

Light needs: Full sun to partial shade

Water Needs: Requires regular watering till established.

Average landscape size:  6′ to 10′ tall

Growth habit: Upright, vase shaped

Special features: Winter flowering

Landscape uses: Accent flowering tree, native gardens. focal point

Flower color: Shades of yellow, yellow- orange, purple, red and green

Flowering season:  Late Winter/Early Spring

Foliage color: Green