Witch Hazel: Plant Spotlight

The witch hazel plant is a beautiful and versatile plant that can add a lot of interest and charm to any garden or landscape. With its unique appearance and hardy nature, it's no wonder why this plant has become a popular choice for gardeners all over Iowa.
Witch hazel plants are deciduous shrubs or small trees that can grow up to 20 feet tall. They typically have a spreading, irregular shape with multiple stems that can be pruned to create a more formal appearance. The leaves are oval-shaped with a wavy margin and a slightly fuzzy texture, and they turn yellow or orange in the fall. The plant's most distinctive feature is its unusual flowers, which bloom in late fall or early winter, producing fragrant, spidery petals in shades of yellow, orange, and red.
Perennial vs Annual: Witch hazel plants are perennial, meaning they will come back year after year as long as they are properly cared for.
 Witch hazel plants are well-suited to Iowa's climate, as they are hardy in zones 3-8 and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and soil types. They are also adaptable to a range of light conditions, from full sun to partial shade, and can thrive in both moist and dry soil.
 There are several different types of witch hazel plants, each with its own unique characteristics. The most common type is Hamamelis virginiana, which is native to North America and has yellow flowers. Other popular varieties include:
  • Hamamelis mollis: This Chinese species has large, fragrant, yellow flowers that bloom in early to mid-winter.
  • Hamamelis vernalis: This species, also known as Ozark witch hazel, has red to orange flowers that bloom in late winter or early spring.
  • Hamamelis x intermedia: This hybrid between Hamamelis japonica and Hamamelis mollis has a range of flower colors, including red, orange, and yellow.
Witch hazel plants are generally low-maintenance and easy to care for, but they do require some basic attention to ensure their health and longevity. Here are some tips for caring for your witch hazel plant:
  • Plant your witch hazel in well-draining soil in a location that gets partial to full sun.
  • Water regularly during the first year after planting, but then reduce watering as the plant becomes established.
  • Fertilize in early spring with a slow-release fertilizer that is high in nitrogen.
  • Prune lightly after flowering to shape the plant and remove any dead or damaged branches.
  • Mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture and protect the roots from extreme temperatures.
Maintaining Them: Witch hazel plants require very little maintenance beyond the basics listed above. However, if you notice any signs of disease or insect infestation, it's important to address them promptly to prevent further damage. Witch hazel plants can be prone to leaf spot, powdery mildew, and scale insects, among other problems. Regularly inspect your plants for signs of trouble, and treat any issues with the appropriate fungicides or insecticides as needed.
Popular Kinds: Some of the most popular witch hazel varieties include:
  • 'Arnold Promise': A large shrub with yellow flowers that bloom in late winter.
  • 'Diane': A smaller shrub with red flowers that bloom in late winter.
  • 'Jelena': A medium-sized shrub with coppery-orange flowers that bloom in late winter.
In conclusion, witch hazel plants are a beautiful and hardy addition to any Iowa garden or landscape. With their unique appearance