James H. Schutte
Plant Common Name
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Mid- and late winter is made much more exciting with the extremely fragrant, spider-like blossoms of the Chinese witchhazel. A rounded, densely branched deciduous shrub from southeastern China, it is relatively rare to be found in the secondary forests there. The leaves are broadly oval, dull green with fuzzy, gray-green undersides. In autumn, they become a lovely gold or orange-yellow. Upon the bare, brown branches in late winter will be tufts of thin, crinkly yellow petals like look like tiny, short ribbons. The petal bases have touches of rusty orange or orange-red. The sweet, spicy and pungent aroma is magnificent, lifting your spirits on even the chilliest or dreariest of days.
Chinese witchhazel is best grown in a soil with good drainage. It can adapt to acidic, and mildly alkaline soils that are moist and deep, with ample organic compositions. Plant one to soften the corner of a house, to bring late winter excitement to any garden border, or plant in a small grove near a public patio or walkway so the fragrance will be obvious and create smiles. Cultivar 'Coombe Wood' is extremely fragrantly flowered and 'Goldcrest' has larger petals that open a bit later in the season.
This species is one of parent plants for the highly ornamental hybrid witchhazel, Hamamelis x intermedia.
AHS Heat Zone
9 - 4
USDA Hardiness Zone
5 - 8
2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 15, 16, 17
Full Sun, Partial Sun
10'-30' / 3.0m - 9.1m (15)
Winter, Late Winter
Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Drought Tolerant, Average Water