Mark A. Miller
HAMAMELIS x intermedia 'Aurora'
Plant Common Name
Aurora Witchhazel, Showy Witchhazel
This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.
Perhaps the largest flowers of all hybrid showy witchhazels are produced on the Aurora selection. The floral fragrance is sweet and very strong, too! This cultivar grew from seed harvested from a cross between cultivars 'Vesna' and 'Pallida'. The first 'Aurora' seedling was raised by J.H.M. van Heijningen in Breda, The Netherlands and released in 1985. It received a two-star rating at the 2002 Royal Booskop Horticultural trials.
This winter-blooming hybrid shrub is certainly among the most widely celebrated modern selections. In the waning days of winter its branches become dotted with fragrant, colorful, spidery flowers. The upright vase-shaped shrub blends and amplifies the great ornamental characteristics of its two parents, Chinese witchhazel (Hamamelis mollis) and Japanese witchhazel (H. japonica).
The Aurora witchhazel has dull sage-green leaves that are broadly oval with wavy edges and short tips. The new leaves are pale yellow-green. Leaf undersides are lighter in color and are fuzzy. In autumn the foliage is yellow-orange with red tints. The bark is smooth and gray-brown, but the smaller twigs, from which the flowers arise, are lighter in color. In midwinter to very early spring, lots of yellowish-red flowers appear. These have four long, thin and crinkly petals that are light yellow at their tips and gradate to dark yellow with red at their bases. The floral cup is red-purple, and visually makes the flowers look overall like a yellow and red bicolor display.
Plant witchhazel in full to partial sun and organic-rich, acid or neutral soil with even moisture and good drainage. Simply put: the more sun, the grander the flower show. Its growth is considerably slower in drier soils and hot locations. 'Aphrodite' is vigorous in growth and develops a handsome, spreading habit with nice lateral branching.
This shrub is a wonderful specimen plant for open landscapes, foundations, mixed borders or public landscapes – from parks and campuses to commercial courtyard and entrance gardens. It looks especially lovely when low groundcovers and early spring bulbs blanket the soil under the branches. 'Aurora' may exhibit a tendency to retain its dead foliage across the winter, potentially diminishing the beauty of the flower display.