© RHS/Tim Sandall


Witch hazel

Botanical name: Hamamelis

Commonly known as witch hazel, with its spicy fragrant, spidery flowers in shades of yellow, orange and red, Hamamelis brings colour and scent to your garden in winter. Although slow growing, they can eventually become large spreading shrubs or small trees. They look good as specimen plants, particularly under-planted with early bulbs such as snowdrops, winter aconites and crocuses. 


These spreading deciduous shrubs, ranging from 2.5-5m (8-16ft) in height and spread, produce spider-like, usually yellow (but also orange or red) flowers on the bare branches in late winter. The oval leaves give good autumn colour, turning bright yellow and orange before falling.


Witch hazels like well-drained, neutral to acid soil in sun or light shade.


They will not grow in alkaline (chalky) soils or flower in deep shade. They dislike exposure to cold winter winds, which can damage the flower buds.

Did you know?

Witch hazel has long been used in traditional medicine to treat anything from damaged skin and bruises to insect bites. The freshly cut stems from the plant were also used for water divining.

Growing guide

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