Winter Flowering Witch Hazel

posted in: Gardening | 11
Do you grow winter flowering witch hazel shrubs? Quite frankly anything that flowers in Perthshire at this time of the year is precious and should be cherished. I’ve quite a few winter flowering plants in the garden. All beautiful in their own way but none more so than the Hamamelis | witch hazels. Despite the dreariness of winter they are captivating and alluring. They always give me hope and anticipation that winter is nearly over …but not just yet! You can read Part One of this series on Winter Flowering plants here : Hamamelis x intermedia jelena 
February is the season of romance and seduction. Love really is in the air! It’s sweet and it’s spicy. Enchanting and irresistible. It’s fertile, desirable and scentactional! This love is resilient and persevering even if the winter temperatures get down to minus double digits. It’s attractive enough to lure the few wildlife pollinators that might just happen to be in the vicinity …never mind a gardener! Though in my opinion both are rare finds in a Perthshire garden in February …unless the gardener is also a photographer!   

this is a text image that reads as follows: A flowers fragrance declares to all the world that it is fertile, available and desirable. Its sex organs oozing with nectar. Its smell reminds us in vestigial ways of fertility, vigor, life force. All the optimism, expectancy, and passionate bloom of youth. We inhale its ardent aroma and no matter what our ages we feel young and nubile in a world aflame with desire.

Winter Flowering Witch Hazel

The four Hamamelis varieties in the leavesnbloom garden are all x intermedia  hybrids with their parentage from the Japanese witch hazels – Hamamelis japonica and the Chinese witch hazels – Hamamelis mollis. The winter colour from these deciduous shrubs/ small trees ranges from the palest sulphurous yellow to red. As a result each year the colour just gets better and better. The witch hazels have such gorgeous colours from December onwards with their peak flowering in February. While their subtle fragrances can fill the morning air seducing the few pollinators that dare to fly at this time of year. They are natural seducers!

These are plants that you’ll need to grow somewhere that you can view the flowers from indoors just in case the weather doesn’t entice you into the garden. 

#1  Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ AGM

I can see this one with its sulfurous yellow blooms from my living room window.

Winter Flowering Witch Hazel - this is an image of witch hazel pallida pale yellow flowers


It’s planted near the patio so that its sweetly scented blooms can be enjoyed  not far from the house.  It’s great for a small garden as it doesn’t take up as much space as other witch hazels.

I nearly lost this plant after the harsh winters of 2009/2010. The blooms are still quite sparse but considering that last year I only had 1 bloom during the winter. Though it is showing encouraging signs of recovery.

#2  Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Orange Beauty’ 

I can view this one from my lounge window.

Winter Flowering Witch Hazel - orange beauty

It’s planted between the driveway and the path to my front door and it has orange yellow blooms which are very fragrant.

#3  Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ AGM 

It’s slow growing and it has red blooms though when the sun is shining on them there are subtle hints of orange too. It’s planted next to the driveway and is lightly scented.

 Winter Flowering Witch Hazel - Diane

#4  Hamamelis
x intermedia ‘Jelena’

I can see these coppery yellow blooms from my kitchen window though they are non scented and the furthest away in the garden.

Winter Flowering Witch Hazel - Jelena

Does Size Really Matter ?

Never let the ultimate size of a witch hazel put you off growing it!

These are shrubs to treasure in the winter garden!  Witch hazel ‘Diane’ and ‘Orange Beauty’ may just be 2.5 feet each in height at the moment in my own garden. But I know that they’ll be a real investment for future winter colour. If they get too big I know that I can prune to keep them at a manageable size. Witch hazel ‘Jelena’ is the only one that I need to prune at the moment. I usually do that in early April just before the new leaves appear.

Just don’t prune later in the summer
as you could end up pruning away flowering wood and might not get as many flowers during the next winter flowering season. You can safely prune the previous years growth away as long as you make your pruning cut about 1cm above a dormant  bud.

These Asian witch hazels that I grow are unlike the native witch hazel from the USA Hamamelis virginiana which flowers during the late autumn. There’s also no competition from the leaves unlike their American cousin as these witch hazels bloom on the bare winter branches.

Open Your heart

If you don’t believe me about love being in the air …even a hamamelis seed pod can have a heart!

Winter Flowering Witch Hazel seed pod

And while on the subject of those seed heads. Did you ever read my blog post about their exploding seed heads?  Now that’s what I call bursting with passion!


Follow Rosie Nixon:

Photography Tutor and Gardener

Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at one of Scotland's only photography galleries - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh. She also writes and shares her nature images on

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11 Responses

  1. elaine rickett

    Your pictures are truly irresistable – I can smell the witch hazel from here. The only winter flowering shrub I have is viburnam – which is pretty boring – note to self – must try harder.

  2. Anna

    My favourite winter plants just have to be snowdrops Rosie but witch hazels are quite high up there too. Good advice about not to worry too much about size as you can always prune.

  3. Kalantikan

    Oh dear Rosie, how are you. Am glad you visited me as I seem to forget coming over here when i don't look at my reading list. Leavesnbloom home looks so different now but it exudes an aura of excellence and elegance. Some posts i cannot relate anymore but your photography is very distinctly Rosie in my mind's memory. There are many outstanding photographers but i see something like this i am always reminded of Rosie's. This article is so very informative as well, and transcends beyond!

  4. PlantPostings

    Gorgeous, just gorgeous. I have a new appreciate for Witch Hazel. I could sit here all evening and just look at your photos!

  5. Rosie Nixon


    I totally agree Anna – any time I see a snowdrop I think of your garden. The Japanese have spent centuries pruning trees for bonsai and if it's the only way to fit a witch hazel into the garden then I think it's well worth it

  6. Janet/Plantaliscious

    I am very much in love with my inherited witch hazel, which I think is 'Arnold's Promise'. Lovely shape to it, but so far it has been too cold to get a whiff of the scent. Am wondering about a Daphne, bu am conflicted about where to put it!

  7. Rosie Nixon


    You're so fortunate to have inherited a witch hazel as I'm sure it will be quite a size and will already give you good winter interest and colour in the garden. I was smelling the Arnold Promise witch hazels a few days ago in the nursery and even though they were under cover outdoors their scent wasn't really all that strong. I too put it down to being too cold.

  8. Curbstone Valley Farm

    I keep wanting to try an Hamamelis here, but I'm afraid the deer would have an opinion about that. We have so little that blooms mid-winter. At the moment, mostly Rosemary, and Manzanita, and not much of that. Your photographs are so enticing though. I especially love the fiery colors of 'Jelena'!

  9. Barbara Lilian

    I think I'm going to like your informative blog. Your brilliant photos of the Witch hazel has certainly made me want one. I'm creating a new are near my terrace so the perfume of this shrub sounds just what I need along with some winter colour. I'll be back to read more