How To Grow Vernal Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) In Your Garden

Hamamelis vernalis, also known as Vernal Witch Hazel, is a deciduous shrub. It is treasured for its bright, fragrant, spider-like flowers. These bloom in late winter and early spring.

Plants typically grow to a height of 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 m), and has a similar spread.

Hamamelis vernalis shrub / tree
Hamamelis vernalis photograph by Plant Image Library; CC.

Its early in the year flowering pattern, brilliant autumn foliage, and suitability for a variety of garden styles make it a popular choice among gardeners.

It thrives in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8, or RHS zone H6, making it hardy throughout the UK.

How to Grow Hamamelis vernalis in the Garden

Hamamelis vernalis prefers a sunny to partially shaded position. This should have a well-drained, moderately fertile soil. While it can adapt to different soil types, it performs best in slightly acidic conditions.

Vernal Witch Hazel cv. 'Purpurea' leaves
Vernal Witch Hazel cv. 'Purpurea' leaves image by Megan Hansen; CC.

Plant root balls during the fall or early spring. Prepare a hole that is twice the width, but about the same depth as the root ball. Once plance, backfill with soil, and then water thoroughly.

Once established, Vernal Witch Hazel is a moderately drought-tolerant plant. Though it will appreciate to grow in an enviroment that has consistent moisture, especially during the dry summer months.

Apply a balanced slow-release fertilizer in early spring to encourage healthy growth and abundant blooming.

Little to no pruning is necessary for this shrub, but you may wish to tidy it up in spring following flowering (to maintain shape and remove damaged or diseased branches.

Be on the look out for scale insects and aphids. Good care, such as proper watering, fertilizing, and monitoring will help maintain the plants health.

Hamamelis vernalis flowers
Hamamelis vernalis flowers image by Plant Image Library; CC.

Adding Hamamelis vernalis to your garden is a great way of introducing winter interest. Furthermore, the leaves wil provide an autumn spectacle. This makes Vernal Witch Haze a captivating addition to the garden, that is sure to attract your attention when most other garden plants are dormant.

Quick Hamamelis vernalis Growing and Care Guide

Scientific Name: Hamamelis vernalis.

Common Name(s): Vernal witch hazel, Ozark witch hazel.

Growing Zone (USA / UK Hardiness): USDA Zones: 4-8. RHS hardiness H6.

Best Used For / Garden Location: Specimen plants, borders, woodland gardens, winter interest.

Plant Details

Life Cycle / Plant Type: Deciduous shrub.

Plant Height: 6-10 ft (1.8-3 m).

Plant Spread: 8-15 ft (2.4-4.5 m).

Blooms: Late winter to early spring.

Flower Details: Fragrant, red to yellow flowers.

Leaf Foliage: Green leaves turning yellow, orange, or red in fall.

Fruit: Woody capsules.

Growing Conditions and Location

Best Light Conditions: Full sun to part shade.

Suitable Soil Types: Well-drained, loamy or sandy soil, preferably acidic.

Sowing / planting: Sow seeds in a cold frame as soon as they are ripe in the fall.

Germination time: Germination can be irregular, often taking 1-2 years.

Propagation: Softwood cuttings in early summer.

Plant Care: Water regularly, particularly in dry periods; prune after flowering if needed.

Growing in pots and containers: Not typically grown in containers due to its size.

Growing as a House plant: Not suitable for indoor cultivation.

Further Information

Miscellaneous: Attracts birds; highly tolerant to air pollution and deer-resistant.

Pests and diseases: Generally pest-free, but can be susceptible to witch hazel leaf gall aphid.

Common Cultivars / Varieties: Hamamelis vernalis 'Amethyst' has purple flowers; 'Sandra' is known for its bright red flowers.

Family: Hamamelidaceae, the Witch-hazel family.

Native: Native to central and southern United States.

References and Further Reading: RHS: Hamamelis vernalis 'Sandra'; Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder; OSU Landscape Plants.

Common Questions

Does Hamamelis vernalis make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Hamamelis vernalis, is a great choice for gardens and landscaping. Its fragrant, bright yellow flowers bloom in late winter, providing color when most other plants are dormant.

Is Hamamelis vernalis fragrant?

Yes, it is a fragrant plant. Its unique, spidery flowers emit a sweet fragrance, bringing sensory delight to the winter garden.

What is the perfect location to grow Vernal witch hazel?

Vernal witch hazel prefers full sun to partial shade, and a well-drained soil. It's adaptable to a variety of soil types and conditions, and is hardy in USDA zones 4-8 (RHS H6).

Is Hamamelis vernalis invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Hamamelis vernalis is not considered invasive in the USA. Indeed it is native to the central and southern United States.

How do I remove Hamamelis vernalis from my garden?

To remove Hamamelis vernalis, cut back the plant to the ground and then dig out the root system. Monitor the area for any regrowth from remaining roots, and remove promptly.


Vernal witch hazel is a deciduous shrub that thrives in well-drained soil, in full sun to part shade. Notable for its fragrant, yellow to red flowers that bloom in late winter.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this guide on how to grow Hamamelis vernalis. You may also enjoy the following growing guides: How to grow Witch Hazel, Chinese Fringe flower, and Weigela Florida Alexandra plants in the garden.

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