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Hamamelis

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Hamamelis virginiana (Virginian witch hazel) flower in the autumn while their leaves are still on the branches, so their delicate yellow flowers can be easily overlooked but their gentle, sweet fragrance will make you to notice them.

Hamamelis vernalis (Vernal / Ozark witch hazel) produce small, yellow to dark red flowers from late winter into early spring and the flowers are deliciously flagrant.

Chinese witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) flower in winter and the golden yellow flowers can even last until early spring. Some varieties can have more colorful flowers and they are usually grafted on Hamamelis virginiana. The blooms, spidery and arising directly from the shoots and branches, are sweetly fragrant and conspicuous.

Japanese witch hazel (Hamamelis japonica) reassemble with Chinese witch hazel just that their flowers are a bit different in shape. The yellow strip-shaped petals of Hamamelis japonica  are twisted and curled while those of  Hamamelis mollis are stretched out.

All Hamamelis are very robust and hardy shrubs that will grow in sun or shade but prefer full sun or partial shade with some shelter from strong cold winds during the flowering season. They like a good humus-rich, fertile soil which is moist but well drained, slightly acidic. Provide regular water during summer dry spells.

They can be used to add height to the back borders, creating a splash of color during winter months. Their leaves also offer spectacular color in autumn. They can also be grown in pots and you can move them closer to your way so you can enjoy them during their flowering period. They need a bit of care if you choose to grow them in pots as they must have a cool root-run in summer, so you need to repot them regularly and move to a place out of hot sunshine in summer when they are not in flower.

They don’t generally require pruning, but it might occasionally be necessary to remove dead or dying wood. It is possible to prune them after flowering but is not advisable because the wounds do not heal readily and the natural grace of the shrub will be lost.

You can propagate Hamamelis from cuttings in summer, by simple or air layering in early spring or autumn, or from grafting done in winter. They are difficult to be propagated from seeds but you can try to sow some at 10-15 Celsius degrees (50-60 F), not too deep as they need light to germinate. Germination is erratic and can take several seasons. May sow seeds in fall when they ripe, into a protected location or may be treated for double dormancy indoors. Stratification for 2-3 months may help spring sown seed. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. Overwinter them in a greenhouse for their first winter and plant them out in late spring.

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