Witch-hazel’s fragrant blooms add interest in autumn & winter

witch-hazel flowers
Witch-hazel is a native shrub that has fragrant blooms in autumn and early winter. Photo courtesy Chris Evans, University of Illinois, Bugwood.org

If you’re looking for a plant that blooms in your garden now, consider witch-hazel.

American witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a native shrub that produces fragrant blooms in late fall and early winter, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The streamer-like flowers are just starting to appear at this time of year, following the annual loss of the shrub’s leaves. The yellow flowers typically last into December.

Since witch-hazel is one of the few plants blooming now, it attracts a variety of pollinating insects.

Other animals like this plant, too. The seeds and buds are a favorite winter food for grouse. Beaver browse on the shrub.

However, if you have a problem with deer, this shrub probably isn’t for you. Deer like witch-hazel, too.

The plant is shade-tolerant and prefers moist sites with well-drained soils. Read more about witch-hazel here.

If you’re looking to add witch-hazel to your backyard, keep an eye out for this species in the DEC Saratoga Tree Nursery’s annual spring sale, coming in January.

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