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I planted 'Diane' last spring, but in spite of all my efforts at watering I will be amazed if it has survived winter. I bought it because I have a neighbor with yellow witch hazel at the far end of his border and when I drive by in March I think it is a forsythia - and then have to correct myself. I don't know what cultivar he has.

Wow, the comments here are just great...on both sides of the issue. I think I just learned a) to give my young plant more time, b) that I should try watering it more this year, c) that it may just not suited to my inland climate and thus it is a "survivor", but not a "thrivor" for me. At least everyone was kind in not blaming the gardener.

Or it could just be that the beauties of WitchHazeldom are in the eye of the beholder?

I have a species witch hazel and while I like the form (nice vase shape) and I get good color in the fall, the persistence of the large leaves often covers the very small reddish flowers. After a very hard winter and lots of wind the bush is still about half covered with old brown leaves - not very attractive.

Plant the NATIVE Witch Hazel, and have blooms at Thanksgiving. It's beautiful walking through a brown landscape, only to find sparkles of yellow. Take a close look... see the intricate details! Enjoy the contrast against brown leaves and branches around you.

I think that maybe some folks are spoiled; or maybe they've just missed the point of flowers. Some garden folks seem more like the guy down the street buying a new car every year... each year it has to be bigger and more spectacular!

Frankly, I think too much is made of "flashy flowers"; they all start looking the same (especially those double flowers of various kinds; don't they all look like roses? ...or something?).

On impossibly luscious close-up pics of what turn out to be squintingly small flowers, Dr. Roush is right on.

On growing hybrid (x intermedia) witch hazels in Kansas (zone 6? zone 5?), yes, you're pushing it, and they probably don't bloom as well as they do here on the arugula-chompin,' NPR and latte sippin' East coast. You're better off with a h. vernalis, which is an Ozark native.

On mislabeled plants -- arrrrrrgh!!! -- but especially with witch-hazels, because a lot of hybrids come over from Europe and they lose their tags in transit or during a day in the Village that turned into a weekend of mindless carousing and waking up in their shorts on somebody's couch . . . . uh, where was I?

On watering and maturity; yeah, they need good moisture and, ideally protection from dry winds, especially in winter, and I'm guessing especially in Kansas. And the show does get better with age.

On fragrance: some, like Arnold's promise and those with a lot of h. mollis in their background, are dependable, but it's a haunting, now you smell it now you don't kind of thing, and a fair number of hybrids have been bred for color but not fragrance, which is MY pet peeve.

Oh, by the way, I love 'em!

Mine had been in large pots for so long that the garden guy gave me both for the price of one. He didn't even know the variety, but many calls to many local garden shops had failed to turn one up. The Denver Botanical Garden has several, but I've never seen them in blossom.

I really wanted mid- or late-winter blossoms, but these come and go well before the reindeer are saddled up.

So is it the soil or the climate? And how much available potassium is in Kool-Aid?

"I admit that I have yet to find a surviving specimen in a public garden in this area." And despite that clear evidence that hybrid hamamelis will not perform in your climate , you persist in trying to grow the plant and then blame catalog merchants for their pictures? I buy variegated Osmanthus in late fall to place in pots around the house for Christmas. Each January, I cheerfully toss them in the compost heap. Why? because they are not hardy, I know this, and I don't blame anyone else for my plant choices.

I was fortunate to have visited Jelena De Belder's Hemelrijk estate in Belgium. Her and her husband were the ones that developed the cultivars 'Jelena' and 'Diana' as well as others. We were there at the height of witch hazel bloom and it was magical. Yellow, gold, orange, red and even purple blooms and a heaven scent fragrance in the air. It is easy to drink the cool-aid when you have such an experience. However, while the plant can be spectacular, I seen only a few really good flower displays in the Mid-west. There are several reasons for this: 1) The most spectacular cultivars tend to be less hardy 2) they tend to grow and flower much better in coastal maritime climates that have a long, moderate spring and 3) who the hell in the Mid-west is out in their garden in February to see or enjoy the floral display.

If you live in the right climate and have room in your garden, go for it - Hamamelis can be spectacular and a most welcome sign of spring. Rare Find Nursery has one of the best selection of Hamamelis cultivars.

You might consider the Mt. Airy Witch Hazel, a cultivar of a native fothergilla--zones 5-8, don't know how it would do in Kansas. The flowers are white bottlebrushes, and signficantly larger than what you describe, and the fall color's a knockout. Not quite the same as the hybrid witch hazel, but might be more satisfying if your witch hazel isn't performing.

I refer to those catalogs as "garden porn" and I read them in mid-winter as a touch of fantasy and escapism. But I've learned since my youth not to expect that's how things look. And any catalog touting stuff as "biggest ever" gets a call to take me off their list.

Our witch hazels are a lovely teaser, with forsythia and then cherries queuing up. Ahh.. spring.

"On mislabeled plants -- but especially with witch-hazels, because a lot of hybrids come over from Europe and they lose their tags in transit".

I agree that mislabeling is extremely frustrating,and irresponsible. I am not sure it happens a lot with the specialty nurseries who grow and sell Hamamelis cultivars. You see, most hybrid Hamamelis are grafted. The influence of the understock on flowering, leaf retention and even fragrance is rarely discussed. I can tell you that red and orange (more of a new copper penny color, not "orange") cultivars will often bloom YELLOW and will bloom in the fall when plants are young. This does not mean the grower or seller mislabeled his/her plants. Further, Fothergilla discussed in a preceding post is more likely called Witch alder rather than Witch Hazel, minor point but worth knowing. Common names are often confusing, at least for me.

FYI, Michele Owen's great piece on Witch Hazel is now online if you guys want to link to it in the intro to this post! Thanks!

Whether or not a plant or flower is perceived as desirable is frequently a matter of placement. Witch hazels like many other flowering trees, shrubs and perennials will take on new importance if planted in front of something that shows them off. In this case, I'd suggest an evergreen backdrop. A good garden designer could have saved you a lot of grief.

I garden in the mid Atlantic region and the witchhazels are everything Henry Mitchell promised. They begin blooming here in Philadelphia in February. The uninitiated immediately mistake them for forsythia's gone mad.....until a closer look reveals closely packed, intense tiny fire crackers of color exploding up and down the outstretched branches. There is nothing more lovely than a witchhazel in bloom underplanted with snowdrops. And they only get better with age.

Sorry Elizabeth, but I think you got this one wrong....

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