Witch Hazel Blooms

As we move out of summer and into autumn, our hydrangea collection fades out while our witch hazel collection starts to bloom. Scattered throughout the Park, you will be able to find our full collection of the Witch Hazel species. This collection comprises over 70 different varieties. Not only is the witch hazel a permanent seasonal collection plant in our garden beds, they are one of five plants that our horticulturists keep phenological data on.

 

 Witch Hazel Blooms

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Witch hazels are a small genus of fall and winter-blooming shrubs and small trees. Three of the species are native to the Americas, including Hamamelis virginiana, H. vernalis, and H. ovalis. The remaining two species, H. japonica and H. mollis are natives of Japan and eastern China respectively.  Asian species of witch hazel and their hybrids generally flower in the winter, from January through March. Most of the North American natives are autumn bloomers, bearing flowers starting in October through December. North American species have yellow flowers and golden fall foliage making the flowers difficult to see. For this reason, many plant hybrids have been developed between Asian species with pink, purple, and orange flowers and the yellow blooming North American species.

 

 Witch Hazel Blooms

 

Witch hazels are not difficult to grow and are partial to soils that are acidic, well-draining and moist, as well as high in organic matter. Witch hazels may be grown in conditions ranging from full sun to part shade, though they flower best in full sun locations. Their preference for consistent moisture means they will wilt during droughts if not irrigated or mulched. 

 

 Witch Hazel Blooms

  

Witch hazels are pollinated by owlet moths, species from the superfamily Noctuoidea. These moths remain active when winter temperatures drop to near freezing. In daytime and when temperatures are below freezing they hide on the ground under insulating leaf cover. During the night, they shiver to warm themselves up enough in order to fly in search of food. As they feed from flower to flower, they carry pollen on their bodies, pollinating the witch hazels. Owlet moths are important foods for both birds and bats at Madison Square Park.

 

 Witch Hazel Blooms

 

Plant Facts: