Audubon® Vernal Witchhazel
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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.
May Benefit & Attract: cardinals & grosbeaks, wrens, sparrows, thrushes, orioles, finches, mockingbirds & thrashers, vireos
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
Size AA (2-3' tall) container grown
Size A (3' tall) container grown
- Hardiness Zone: 4-8
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Recommended by Our Growers
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.
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.
How to Grow
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.
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