Why plant Audubon® Native Vernal Witchhazel?
Sprinter! That rousing, exhilarating season between winter and spring, when the ground begins to thaw and we dream of warmer days just around the corner. Vernal Witch Hazel kicks things off with its funny little yellow, peach, or brick-red flowers—the first blooms of the year on any native plant in most of the eastern U.S. On mild days the flowers give off a gentle, spicy-sweet scent. Vernal Witch Hazel is a must-have for the pollinator garden, as it will offer something to the earliest-emerging insects looking for fuel. Its foliage also feeds many species of caterpillars, so it’s great for insectivorous songbirds, too.
Vernal Witch Hazel is not a true Hazel, although the leaves and stems are similar to that plant. It has nothing to do with witchcraft, either, though that point may be debatable! The branches are used by those who practice “water witching,” whereby a forked branch held in the hands supposedly moves of its own accord to indicate the presence of an underground water source. There are several species of Witch Hazels native to various points around the globe, but Vernal Witch Hazel has a quite limited range. In the wild, it is primarily found on the Ozark Plateau of Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
How to use Audubon® Native Vernal Witchhazel in the landscape?
In rural areas, ruffed grouse and turkeys may feed on the seeds of Vernal Witch Hazel, but they may have to do some searching for them. Once the seeds are ripe (which takes a whole year), they’re fired like a bullet from their pods! They may land 10, 20, or even 30 feet from the parent plant.
Hardiness Zone: 4-8
How To Plant Audubon® Native Vernal Witchhazel
Native to moist, open woods and shady streamsides, Vernal Witch Hazel likewise prefers a somewhat sheltered place in the garden in rich, deep soil that drains well but does not dry out. Full sun is acceptable, but not ideal, at least in hot climates—give it a bit of shade during the hottest part of the day. Vernal Witch Hazel is otherwise undemanding, hardy (to at least -30ºF), and easy to please. In time, it develops a dense growth habit. You can thin the branches for a cleaner look, but birds will appreciate the cover afforded by a more thickety specimen.
How To Fertilize
Incorporate Elements Starter Plant food granular form into the soil when planting. If planting in spring or summer, start fertilizing late fall using Elements Starter Plant food granular form on an annual basis each late fall. Continue this for the first three years to get your plant well established.