Chinese Witch Hazel
January may be a cold time of the year, but there are plenty of plants that can flower in this month. Mahonias are popular and you can even get winter pansies. However our favourite is the reliable and colourful Chinese Witch Hazel, which usually flowers from December to February and has a sweet fragrance. It will also provide some colour in the autumn as the broad, oval leaves turn bright yellow before falling.
Chinese Witch hazel should be planted from seed between September and November, and it may take up to a year to germinate. It can also be propagated from softwood cuttings during May, although we recommend this for only very experienced gardeners. It is fine in a sunny or shady spot, and some shelter from cold winds may be beneficial come the flowering season. It prefers an acidic soil that is moist but well drained. If you wish you can fan train the Chinese Witch Hazel on a wall or fence, or you can keep in a 40cm pot.
This hardy deciduous shrub will grow up to 4m tall and 4m wide, although it could take up to 20 years to reach this size. A low maintenance shrub, pruning is rarely needed – but if you do – go for Early Autumn while the plant is dormant or lightly just after the flowering season. It will need some watering during dry periods and needs very little feeding so only give it a covering of general fertiliser if you feel the need.