Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Witch Hazel
Hamamelis virginiana

Family: Hamamelidaceae
Genus: Hamamelis (ham-uh-MEE-lis) (Info)
Species: virginiana (vir-jin-ee-AN-uh) (Info)

7 vendors have this plant for sale.

41 members have or want this plant for trade.

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8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
Gold (Yellow-Orange)

Bloom Time:
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter

Grown for foliage

Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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There are a total of 24 photos.
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8 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral travelgal On Jan 26, 2015, travelgal from Clarkesville, GA wrote:


Positive coriaceous On Feb 13, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

An attractive shrub or multitrunked understory tree native to moist woodlands of eastern N. America. It differs from the Asian witch hazels in blooming in late fall rather than late winter.

This tree can reach a height of 20-25' and as wide. It should be planted where it can reach its full size without disturbance. Pruning destroys its beautiful branching architecture.

I observe a lot of genetic variation in the number of flowers. The average wild plant is a lot less floriferous than any of the hybrid Asian witch hazels in commerce. But a few plants have a lot more flowers.

There's also a lot of genetic variability in the timing of bloom. Some bloom while still in leaf, others come into bloom only after the leaves drop. The latter are more ornamentally useful. I wish someone would select one and propagate it.

The sweet fragrance of the flowers is strong enough to carry on the air.

The flowers may seem anticlimactic on the heels of the yellow fall foliage display. If I had to choose one witch hazel for specimen use, I'd plant one of the Asian winter blooming varieties.

Tolerates considerable shade, but flowering is best in full sun with consistent moisture.

This plant can be propagated by layering, which takes a year.

Seeds take a year to ripen. Capsules burst explosively, with a loud sound, shooting the seeds up to 30'. To collect seeds, bag them in late summer, or cut the capsules off in late summer or early fall when ripe and allow to dry in a covered container. Seeds have a double dormancy requirement. Scarification may speed germination.

The seeds are said to have been a valued food among native Americans, and to taste like pistachios.

Dec. 2014: A freely flowering selection has been made commercially available: 'Harvest Moon'. There are now 5-8 different cultivars in commerce. Yay!

Positive Rickwebb On Jan 8, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

I've seen this plant wild in the shady, mature (climax) woods of se PA, sw Michigan, and northern DE. I occassioanlly see a few in landscapes, usually planted because of landscape architects. Large nurseries and native nurseries sell some. It is a high quality plant that is neat and clean. Handsome leaves get to 6" long x 3.5 " wide, develop good yellow or orange fall color, and stems have smooth gray bark, and small yellow flowers bloom in October, November, to early December. Grows about 1 ft/yr and lives 100 to 150 yrs. Can be a small tree, but usually a large shrub in regular landscapes. Grows in moist or draining wet soils acid or slightly alkaline; dislikes dry soils.

Positive plant_it On Jun 11, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Witch Hazel is native to U.S. and Canada from Quebec & Nova Scotia to northern Michigan & southeast Minnesota, south to Florida and Texas.

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best flowering in full sun. Prefers moist, acidic, organically rich soils. Tolerates heavy clay soils. Promptly remove suckers to prevent colonial spread. Little pruning is required. Prune in early spring if necessary.

This small tree or tall shrub is often multi-trunked and usually grows10-15 ft. tall but can reach 35 ft. in height. The large, crooked, spreading branches form an irregular, open crown. The floral display of witch hazel is unique. Its fragrant, yellow flowers with strap-like, crumpled petals appear in the fall, persisting for some time after leaf drop. Lettuce-green, deciduous leaves maintain a rich consistency into fall when they turn brilliant gold. Bark is smooth and gray.

Birds eat the fruits (small brown capsules). Browsed by deer and beaver.

Positive AmyMorie On Aug 5, 2012, AmyMorie from Green Cove Springs, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Grows well in a very large pot here in North Florida. Beautiful foliage does not appear to be bothered by insects or disease so far, but has yet to bloom

Positive bogturtle On Dec 14, 2009, bogturtle from Egg Harbor Township, NJ wrote:

H. virginiana 'Harvest Moon' was planted, late this summer. It bloomed, as predicted, after most of the leaves were shed. This made the tiny flowers much easier to see. Its flower color did not, especially, carry and bloom did not last long, but the flowering period is unique, among the Hamamelis on this property.

Positive waplummer On Dec 14, 2009, waplummer from Painted Post, NY wrote:

A few year's ago Anne Raver wrote an article on the witch hazels in the NY Times contending that a cold period is needed for them to bloom and that the order of bloom was a function of the length of that cold period. Based on her contention, Hamamelis virginiana is not the last to bloom, but the first.

Positive ival On Dec 14, 2009, ival from Arlington, TX wrote:

While I have never grown witch hazel here in Arlington, Texas, I do have fond memories of admiring both the appearance and fragrance of a large planting of witch hazel in bloom in Meadowbrook Park in east Fort Worth, years ago. These were well-established shrubs, professionally cared for, and presumably with the advantage of an irrigation system to tide them through the often hot and dry summers here. Dogwood trees do well here when properly established and well-mulched; and witch hazels appear to have similar requirements.

Neutral MotherNature4 On Jul 1, 2005, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant does grow down into central Florida, zone 9.

Positive lupinelover On Jan 3, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

This species blooms in autumn, beginning while the leaves are still attached. The flowers continue to bloom through late fall and early winter, providing a long season of bloom. The seedpods ripen in the spring as new leaves emerge. A very beautiful shrub to grow for window viewing

Neutral activex On Feb 2, 2002, activex wrote:

According to legend, the forked branches of the Witch-Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, can be used as a divining rod to detect groundwater sources. Liquid extracted from the bark is used for astringents. The capsulated fruit, when dry, can shoot the seeds up to a distance of 30 feet which is a good system of seed dispersal.

What to look for: Leaves asymetrical at base with coarse rounded teeth. flowers yellow. Fruit are hard brown capsules.

Habitat: Bottomlands, forests, streambanks and moist woodlands.

Size: 5 - 15 feet tall. Leaves 4 - 6 inches long.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)
Saraland, Alabama
Morrilton, Arkansas
Dover, Delaware
Wilmington, Delaware
Lake City, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Barnesville, Georgia
Clarkesville, Georgia
Columbus, Georgia
Marietta, Georgia
Savannah, Georgia
Batavia, Illinois
Palmyra, Illinois
Michigan City, Indiana
Valparaiso, Indiana
Clermont, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Elkton, Maryland
Emmitsburg, Maryland
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey
Maplewood, New Jersey
Buffalo, New York
Croton On Hudson, New York
Oakland Gardens, New York
Painted Post, New York
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Sanford, North Carolina
Oak Harbor, Ohio
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania
Milford, Pennsylvania
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Arlington, Texas
Salisbury, Vermont
Leesburg, Virginia
Newport, Virginia
Vienna, Virginia
Edmonds, Washington
Porterfield, Wisconsin

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