Other Names: winterbloom, striped alder, snapping hazel
Witch hazel is a genus of flowering deciduous shrubs and sometimes small trees. There are four main species and one hybrid, with two of them native to North America. These popular ornamental plants are grown for their attractive yellow, orange or red flowers, which bloom in clusters in late autumn and continue throughout the winter. Not to be outshone by the flowers, the foliage is just as stunning. In the fall, the dark green oval leaves turn a vibrant yellow with hints of purple and red.
Being one of the last shrubs to bloom, witch hazel is ideal for gardeners who live in climates with long winters, like Canada. The firecracker-like flowers will add colour and life to the dull, gloomy winter landscape. The plant is easy to grow, hardy and requires minimal pruning. Witch hazel does best in full sun to light shade with moist, well-drained acidic soils.
If you decide to grow witch hazel in your garden, be sure to take the time to smell these flowers! They have a delightful spicy-citrus fragrance!
Climate Zones: 4-8
Fun Flower Facts about Witch Hazel
- The genus name, Hamamelis came from the Greek words “hama” for together and “mela” for fruit. Sometimes you can find some witch hazel plants that will produce flowers and fruit at the same time.
- The name witch hazel may have come from the time when early settlers used the forked branches to make brooms.
- The branches were also used to divine water or gold. The branches were said to pull downward when water or gold was present underground.
- The leaves and bark have astringent and sedative properties.
- Witch hazel is used in medicines, eye washes, aftershaves.
- It can be used to reduce itching and swelling, i.e to soothe insect bites, burns and poison-ivy rashes.
- Witch hazel may be useful in fighting acne.