A witch hazel in the garden
To the genus hamamelis belong less than ten species of shrubs or small saplings, widespread in nature in America (hamamelis virginiana) and in Asia (mainly Hamamelis vernalis, Hamamelis japonica and Hamamelis mollis). They produce a beautiful compact and elegant vegetation, with large roundish leaves, light green, which become yellow or orange in autumn, before falling. Towards the end of winter, on the bare branches, numerous small flowers bloom, with petals and linear sepals, often pendulous and matted, similar to small golden-yellow duvets, delicately scented. Hamamelis virginiana flowers already in autumn, and small flowers can often be seen among the yellow leaves.
Numerous hybrids and cultivars exist on the market, with particularly large flowers, or orange or red.
How cultivation takes place
Now let's see how witch hazel cultivation should be done.
It is a rustic shrub, which finds its home in the garden, in a well-lit corner, possibly sunny; they can withstand even very cold temperatures, even below -15 ° C, and the flowers bloom even under the snow, giving an exotic touch to the winter garden.
In areas with very hot summers it is preferable to place the witch hazel in a partially shaded place, or in any case sheltered from the sun during the hottest hours of the day.
It prefers a soft and fairly rich soil, not too compact; from March to April it needs watering, especially in dry periods, without rainfall; in any case we always wait for the soil to dry before watering again. These plants, in addition to drought, also fear water stagnation, therefore they should be planted in a very well drained substratum, and we avoid watering when the elements are dampening the soil. Above all we avoid watering the plant when it begins to lose its leaves in autumn.
The witch hazel, of any species, does not reach dimensions greater than 3-4 meters in height, and equal width; It is however easy to keep it smaller in size by pruning its branches every year, shortening them by about half. This shrub is therefore also ideal for a small garden; it can also be grown in pots, on the terrace.
The potted plants
Let us always remember that a pot plant can have very different needs compared to the sister planted in the ground; mainly this occurs because the root system is forced to develop into a contained space, while in nature it can expand at will, to look for moisture or mineral salts. So in general the specimens grown in pots need more regular watering, especially in summer.
Being forced into little space, the plants grown in pots then suffer from our neglect: too often we forget to water them for days and days, leaving the earthen bread around the roots to completely dry; very often we forget to repot our potted plants, leaving them to grow in a now asphyxiated soil; we forget to control the development of parasites, which can cause greater damage to plants that are sometimes already suffering from other problems.
Witch hazel cultivation - Hamamelis: Growing tips
So let's remember:
- Periodically repot the witch hazel into the pot, at least every 2-3 years, in autumn or late summer, avoiding touching the earthen bread around the roots.
- Check the soil moisture, especially in summer, avoiding to leave it dry or soaked in water for a long time.
- Check the presence of pests, especially if our plant is placed in a place with poor ventilation, or excessively hot.
- From March to October we supply fertilizer for flowering plants, or at the end of winter we spread a slow release granular fertilizer at the foot of the plant.