Witch hazels can thrive in many gardens, given the right conditions and care. You can find the details below.
Site and soil conditions
An open, sunny position is best, as plants become straggly in shade, although they do tolerate partial shade. Avoid exposed and windy positions.
Young witch hazels can be damaged by hard frosts, so avoid frost pockets, or be prepared to protect plants with a couple of layers of horticultural fleece in their first few years if there is a hard winter or late spring frost.
Witch hazels need free-draining soil conditions with an adequate supply of moisture. A light soil with plenty of added organic matter, such as well-rotted manure or compost, is best. They will tolerate heavy or clay soils if they are improved by digging in organic matter and by ensuring good drainage.
Acid to neutral soil pH is preferred (pH 4.5-6.5). Witch hazels may tolerate deep soils over chalk, with plenty of added organic matter. If they become chlorotic (yellow) because of the high pH, then treatment with a chelated (sequestrated) iron fertiliser, ideally one that also contains manganese, can help. They are unlikely to tolerate shallow chalky soils.
Watering, mulching and feeding
Water witch hazel plants during dry periods, particularly if they are young or still establishing. Lack of moisture can be a problem in winter as well as in hot summers, with flowers aborting because of insufficient moisture levels. Conserve water by mulching the root area in late winter or early spring.
Witch hazels need little feeding, but may benefit from a top dressing of general balanced fertiliser, such as Growmore or fish, blood and bone, in late winter or early spring.
Use a John Innes ericaceous or, less effectively, soil-free ericaceous or multipurpose potting compost and pot on gradually as the shrub grows, with the final container being quite large (about 40cm (16in) across and deep). Make sure the compost does not dry out, but ensure the pot has good drainage, with sufficient drainage and standing the pot on pot feet if the drainage holes are flush with the ground.