Rick’s Native Plant of the Month | Common Witch Hazel

January 11, 2022

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

Common witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, is no longer in bloom, but it was blooming just 3 weeks ago. Found in moist woodlands and along forest margins and streams throughout eastern North America, it grows 15-20 feet tall and wide, and flowers at the end of the year from October to December. All along each branch, clusters of fragrant yellow blooms unfurl their ribbon-like petals on warm-ish days and close them up tight when it get cold. Sometimes, flowers are hidden by witch hazel’s large, wavy-margined leaves, which turn yellow in autumn.

Fruits are small, long-lasting, woody capsules that remain until October of the following year, when they discharge their seeds.

Witch hazels have few if any pests and diseases. They are great choices for naturalizing in woodland gardens, shrub borders or large screens and hedges.

Unlike common witch hazel, vernal witch hazel is native to the central U.S. and blooms on and off during winter and early spring depending on the temperature.


Vernal witch hazel 'Jelena' soon to flower

We have several witch hazels at Bridge Gardens, including common, vernal and Chinese. When you visit, look for them in the bed next to the shed, and in the border behind the community garden.

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