Our plant pick this week is one of the earliest or latest shrubs to flower in the season. I say that because it depends on which species you have! Our plant is Witch Hazel (Hamamelis spp.) and we could be talking about virginiana, vernalis, ovalis, mollis (Chinese), and japonica (Japanese). (Hamamelis translates to “together with nut” – fruit and flowers occur on same plant at same time.) And although you may find selections available from all species, it’s actually the ‘intermedia’ hybrids that usually are sold the most in the trade.And yes, some flower with up close fragrant flowers in late winter and early spring, some late fall, and most have a good golden yellow fall color. Used as large shrubs or small multi-stemmed trees (also found grafted as a small patio or container tree), require little to no pruning, and basically a low maintenance plant for the landscape. By the way, on 45 plus degree days, these can be a great source of food for the bees! Witch Hazels are an entire group of plants that are way underused in the landscape.
Virginiana – Common Witch Hazel – late fall early winter flowers (yellow)
Vernalis – Vernal Witch Hazel – late winter / early spring flowers (yellow – few reddish selections)
Mollis – Chinese Witch Hazel – early spring flowers (larger - more fragrant yellow – few orange tipped)
Japonica – Japanese Witch Hazel
Intermedia – Hybrid Witch Hazels – winter / spring flowers yellow to reds to orange fragrant selections)
Ovalis – Bigleaf Red Witch Hazel – late winter red flowers