Witch Hazel

Witch hazel will thrive almost anywhere. Considered a shrub or small tree, witch hazel’s crooked branches are covered in smooth, gray bark and witch hazel’s arresting, yellow flowers appear in the fall or winter – the bloom time depends on the species you choose. The distilled extract from witch hazel’s leaves and bark has long been used as a general tonic and swelling reducer, and witch hazel is still used to treat minor skin irritations, burns, acne and more. .

by Dani Yokhna
PHOTO: sea turtle/Flickr

Size: Shrub or small tree and can grow to 15 feet tall.

Sunlight requirements: Full sun to partial shade

Water requirements: Regular watering, especially in dry weather

Soil requirements: Witch hazel will thrive almost anywhere – even in heavy, clay soils – and it can tolerate neutral to acidic soils.

When to plant: Because witch hazel seeds require some special treatment and a very long germination period, it’s easiest to propagate this unusual herb via cuttings.

Where to plant: Garden; containers

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When to harvest: Prune fresh twigs from shrubs as soon as they flower, which can be from October through April.

Produce storage: Strip leaves and flowers from twigs and dry for sachets or potpourri. Chop twigs into chips/mulch and boil according to tonic recipe. Store tonic in sealed glass jars.

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