Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show: Bewitching Witch hazel
Witchhazel meant to me a kind of gooey stuff that mom put on insect bites. But last year, I became bewitched by the bush! It’s flowers are fragrant and unique, it’s easy to grow and some are native…
Witch hazel has never been a shrub I’ve thought of but after seeing ‘Jelena’ advertised in one of my catalogs, I had to further investigate. While this particular cultivar is listed as zone 5, some are hardy to zone 3. Those would be the Common Witch hazel or ham-ah-MAY-lis ver-jin-ee-AY-nah. It’s ribbon-like flowers are yellow and bloom in Fall. ‘Jelena’ is a late winter/early spring bloomer with coppery petals all bunched up around a red center.
These shrubs prefer part shade to full sun and moist but well-drained, acidic to neutral soil. If you live in a colder climate and plant the zone 5 cultivar, then place it in a more protected spot. As always, keep in mind it’s mature measurements as you plant! If the soil is deep and rich enough, Hamamelis, it’s Latin name, can take alkaline soils. Pruning is minimal, if any.
It’s foliage is often hairy. The leaves scalloped or toothed. There are 4 species of witch hazel – two are native to the United States. Common and Spring witch hazel. Then there’s Chinese and Japanese. ‘Jelena’ is a 5th hybrid that happened accidently when Chinese and Japanese were crossed. All of them are fragrant but the Chinese are more intense.
The Chicago Botanic Garden has a great article too, Which witch hazel should be in your yard?