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Plant A Patch: Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

By: Sandra Nelson





Whether used as a divining rod to find water, a cure a broken heart or to ward off evil,  the native shrub witch hazel has held a noteworthy spot in American folklore for centuries. Better known today for its offering rare “golden blooms in the dead of winter,” witch hazel deserves a place in today’s native landscape. This deciduous shrub, which loves the full sun and moist, well-drained soil, sets clusters of sweet-smelling, bright yellow blooms along it branches in late fall and early winter. Those blooms then spend the duration of the winter forming fruit that birds flock to. Because blooms last well into the cold winter months, this is an excellent plant to support late season insects — a definite plus in the era of declining insect populations.