Flowering in the late winter the distinctive flowers provide a highlight in the garden leading up to spring. The Witch Hazels, of which there are many different cultivars, start flowering in mid winter and flower for the next 6-8 weeks or longer.
There are about 20 genera in the family Hamamelidaceae including such well known plants such as Liquidambar, Fothergilla, Parrotia and Hamamelis which has the following species H. mollis (China), H.japonica (Japan), H.macrophylla (SE USA), H.verna (S USA), and H.virginiana North America). H.mollis and H.japonica hybridise easily producing a large group of hybrids and named cultivars with the botanical name Hxintermedia.
Hamamelis mollis grows very well in all temperate climates. It prefers well drained rich soil although will adapt to a variety of soil types. It needs full sun for its new shoots to grow strongly and ripen but it is also happy in dappled shade. In spring the new ovate shaped leaves emerge. They may be dull green or green grey in colour, glabrous (smooth without hairs) and pubescent (covered in fine hairs) below and occasionally lustrous. It can be propagated by layering the lower branches.
The flowers open slowly like a spring unwinding as the very long narrow strap like bright lemon yellow petals emerge from the buds until they are stretched fully open. The sweet scent is pleasant and provides an additional attraction in the garden or as a picked flower inside.
Hamamelis mollis is an aristocratic shrub with a distinctive conservative branching structure growing in a wide vase shaped pattern. Its low maintenance requirements in terms of care, pest and disease resistance and lack of pruning make it ideal for the modern garden.