Guide to Growing Witch Hazel in the Winter

Watch Your Witch Hazel Thrive in the Dead of Winter

By Gina LiVorio Posted on 12/26/2022

Witch hazel is a winter gardening staple and a unique shrub that thrives no matter how cold the winter region is. Witch hazel is especially striking in the fall when its blooms turn into a vibrant yellow color that matches the serene colors of fall foliage, however, its real appeal is that it blooms when few other winter plants do.

When Does Witch Hazel Bloom?

Close up of witch hazel

Witch hazel blooms between the months of October and March, so their bloom starts in the fall and ends in the spring. This unique blooming season means witch hazel plants are still thriving in the winter months when the frost tends to kill most plant varieties. Another appealing feature of witch hazel is striking yellow flowers that appear like thin ribbons. Some varieties also have a strong fragrance to them.

In the dead of winter when our yards look and feel gloomy and dark, witch hazel’s blooming flowers add a pop of color and an inspiring foreshadowing of the upcoming spring.

Witch hazel not only starts blooming earlier than most plants, but they also last longer too. Witch hazel can last for eight weeks or even longer.

Where to Plant Witch Hazel

Yellow witch hazel

Witch hazel is a large shrub that grows up to 12 feet wide and 20 feet high depending on the variety. When planning your garden design, plant your witch hazel in areas that can accommodate larger shrubs and where gardeners can fully appreciate its fragrant flowers.

Witch hazel works well as a flowering shrub border as long as they have enough room to grow and spread out. When choosing locations in gardening, always consider the specific plant varieties and their spacing pattern requirements. In this case, witch hazel needs about 10-12 feet between each plant to flourish. Once planted, witch hazel is a low-maintenance plant.

Caring for Witch Hazel

Witch hazel on a branch

Although it is low maintenance, witch hazel does have its own set of growing conditions needed for success. Witch hazel will thrive in the chillingly cold months of winter. While it can tolerate partial shade, it needs adequate sunlight to grow. It also needs well-drained, moist soil.

Witch hazel is an extremely adaptable plant variety in that it can tolerate most conditions and are resistant to most pests and diseases. Many gardeners like to prune witch hazel right after they flower to keep their size in check. The best time of year to plant your witch hazel is in early spring or late fall but once the plant is established, it won’t need much care other than supplemental water if your area is experiencing a drought.

Witch Hazel Varieties

Light yellow witch hazel

There are four main categories of witch hazel:

  • American Witch Hazel – Hamamelis virginiana
  • Ozark Witch Hazel – Hamamelis vernalis
  • Chinese Witch Hazel – Hamamelis mollis
  • Japanese Witch Hazel – Hamamelis japonica

Hybrids are available of Chinese and Japanese types of witch hazel, referred to as Hamamelis × intermedia, for more vibrant flowers and enhanced fragrance.

Hortisketch Garden Planner – Designing Your Winter Garden

Garden design

The best gardening resource for designing your winter garden is a garden planner that is user friendly, yet robust as well as cloud based, to help design and execute your garden dreams.

Winter gardening needs extra consideration because of the extreme weather conditions gardens are faced with. Witch hazel plants are cold and wind resistant, two important factors for winter gardeners.

Hortisketch can make your winter gardening dreams come to life with its many helpful features, such as accurate growing and spacing information, and a calendar based on your growing zone.

Once you design your winter garden using Hortisketch, head on over to our suppliers’ page to locate the world’s best suppliers for all your gardening needs-over 1,600 vendors.


Gardeners grow at Garden Savvy! We provide gardeners with the best tools to plan a garden, organize a garden, and research a garden, with Hortisketch, our Garden Manager and our catalog of gardening Suppliers. Get started on your dream garden today.