Hamamelis mollis

Common name: Chinese witchhazel

Hamamellis mollis is a slow growing winter flowering shrub or small tree with green felt like obviate leaves that turn yellow in autumn.

They can grow to around 6metres (20ft) high with a similar spread, but with suitable pruning they can be kept to a size suited to the smaller garden.

The sweetly scented rich golden-yellow flowers are flushed red at their base and appear very early in the year (Jan/Feb).

Plants can be grown in pots but growing in soil is a better option.

Pots can be restrictive, but this is not to say that they can't be grown on in this manner.

For example: they can be grown in pots until such times as they outgrow it, then they can be planted out into the border.

Plants must have a cool root-run in summer, so move to a spot out of hot sunshine in summer when not in flower.

Cultivation

Week 13: Normally they do not require a lot of pruning other than to keep them tidy and of a decent shape.

Where pruning is necessary, undertake it as the flowers fade, but before the leaves open.

As with many shrubs, remove congested, crossing growth or any weak or diseased shoots.

To restrict an established plant, cut back two or three of the longer branches to a well-placed side branch, this will reduce height and spread

Be careful not to remove too many branches, plus when the shrubs are pruned this hard it is important to distinguish the leaf buds with their long narrow shape to the fatter more rounded flower buds.

Where suckers are produced these should be removed.

Do this by following the suckers down to the roots and cut out at their point of origin.

Week 20>: Feed and mulch annually, water in dry spells to promote strong growth, this will also discourage suckering.

Week 27: Most cultivars are propagated by grafting onto a rootstock, however if desired, heel cuttings can be taken now and rooted in individual pots placed in a cold frame.

To improve the chances of rooting it is better to root them in a propagator set at 16-18°C (60-65°F).

A misting unit will also speed up the rooting process, sadly, a hand spray is not as convenient as a misting unit but it makes for a suitable alternative.

Week 35: Suitably positioned shoots can be layered.

It can up to two years for these layers to root.

Once rooted, sever them from the main plant and replant them in their new quarters.

Pot on rooted cuttings into individual 100mm (4") pots of good potting compost (equivalent of Ji 2)and grow on over winter in a frost free area.

Week 40: The following year plant out the cuttings into a nursery bed for two or three years, growing them on until they are of a size suitable to planting out in the garden.

As an alternative to cuttings, ripe seed can be sown now in pots and placed in a cold frame to germinate.

Seed can often take in excess of two years to germinate.

Once germinated prick out the seedlings, singly into 70mm (3") pots then treat as you would cuttings.

Planting out new stock / cuttings can be carried out any time between Week 40-Week 13 providing weather and ground conditions allow.

They prefer a sunny or semi-shaded site, sheltered from cold winds where the soil is moisture retentive and has a pH that is neutral/acid.

Avoid deep shade as this can affect flowering.

Add liberal amounts of well decayed manure/compost before planting to heavy soils, but not in light soils, it is better to use the organic matter as mulch in such situations.

Avoid areas that are subject to water-logging in winter as this is a common cause of plant loss.

Plants can be grown as a fan shaped features against fences and walls.

To do this tie in the main shoots to horizontally placed wires.

Do not cut the best placed shoots leave them to extend themselves to the desired shape.

Cut strong side shoots to two growth buds after flowering each year.





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