The Witch hazels are great winter flowering shrubs and small trees. If your garden is on the small side the Witch Hazels or Hamamelis can be kept in check by judicious pruning. Take care not to prune off and stop the scented winter flowers. Careful annual pruning can encourage the formation of more flowering sideshoots.
Witch Hazel Cultivation before Pruning
- Witch Hazels are slow growing and can take 10 years to reach 10-12 feet.
- Cultivars prefer full sun and in deep shade they grow sparse with few flowers.
- If space is at a premium they can be pruned annually. Other pruning should be restricted to removing dead or damaged growth.
- Do not plant too deeply and thus cover the grafting point.
- Watering, feeding and mulching encourages a strong Witch Hazel
Pruning to Restrict Size
- Prune in early spring as the flowers fade but before the leaves open.
- As with other pruning remove congested, crossing growths, diseased wood and weak shoots.
- To restrict an established plant cut back only two or three longer branches to a well placed side branch.
- This thinning of the longest branches reduces height and spread.
- Annual pruning should encourage a dense shrub that flowers well.
Harder Pruning and Suckers
- Where a shrub is ‘hard pruned’ to restrict growth leave the fatter rounded flower buds. Leaf buds are longer and narrower.
- Previous seasons wood can be pruned in autumn/winter.
- Your shrub will probably have been grafted and may throw a sucker. Follow the shoot down and cut at the join with the root stock.
See amazing colours of Witch Hazel on google
RHS Recommended Varieties
H. x intermedia ‘Diane’ AGM: The finest red flowered witch hazel. It has a long flowering period throughout midwinter and is lightly scented. Height 2.5m (8ft). Spread 3m (10ft).
H. x intermedia ‘Jelena’ AGM: One of the best cultivars, unscented coppery orange flowers appear in early to mid-winter. Height 4m (13ft). Spread 4m (13ft).
H. x intermedia ‘Pallida’ AGM: Thought to be the best sulphur-yellow cultivar for garden use. Height 3m (10ft). Spread 4m (13ft).
H. mollis ‘Wisley Supreme’: Flowering in January, it has a good scent and bright yellow flowers. Height 3m (10ft). Spread 3m (10ft).
H. virginiana: Bears yellow, scented flowers in mid-late autumn, rather than in winter. Height 4m (13ft). Spread 4m (13ft).