Witch Hazel, Arnold's Promise

greyandamyMarch 4, 2011

This is my 3rd year with this plant. First, it was very expensive. 2nd, it grows so so slow (though I always hear the saying, first year they sleep, second crawl, third leap... though I doubt this is a "leaping" shrub.

I'm not impressed with it's flowers this year. They don't seem fragrant (last year they were, I'm sure). They don't cover the branches, some top branches bare.

Are there some years that this isn't too impressive? It's in sun, on a slope, protected from winds. I thought I gave it enough water... but does it need "ample water"?

Near fall, the ends of leaves were browning (drought everywhere, thus not enough water)and dropped early. Should it be moved to a place where I water often? What is the best "siting" for this slow growing shrub?

Thanks for any advice!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


you keep coming back.. so you must want some learnin .... lets start class ...

first ... the adage "first year they sleep, second crawl, third leap' is usually applied to hosta.. and i suppose.. a lot of larger perennials... i cant recall ever hearing it applied to shrubs ...but i suppose its possible ...

now.. as to flowers ....lets set this in a time line ... setting aside all transplant issues ....

the shrub flowers ... mostly in spring with shrubs.. with a few exceptions... then usually they take about a 3?? month siesta of growing leaves and storing energy ... how this all goes depends on the ambient weather at this time ...

sometime in summer.. they start to SET buds for the next year .. again.. this development is weather dependent ... think about a severe hail storm decimating the new buds ... and dont forget drought ...

and then fall comes.. and they prepare for winter.. and again.. it is weather dependent .... think about severe drought in aug/sept/oct ...

then.. perhaps you decided to love you plant to death.. and somehow justified them needing food late in the fall ... throwing on gobs of fertilizer late in the season ... and then a hard frost or freeze hits.. and instead of having cycled down.. or hardened off to winter ... your FED plants were in fast vegetative growth.. and suffered severe frost freeze damage ... plus the drought.. plus the hailstorms ...

throw all of winter on top of that.. lol .. including any severe temps not only cold... which yours should take.. but even prolonged warm spikes when it is supposed to be winter ...

now.. all that said.. can you understand why for the life of us.. we most likely can not tell you why you had fewer flowers this year ...

why dont you .. pop quiz.. lol ...wrap your head around the theory.. and you try to recall the weather since bud development occurred last year .. and speculate as to which vagary of mother nature.. severely impacted flowering ...

we will grade you on a curve.. so dont worry about that ..

as they said in law school: DISCUSS AND DECIDE ....

blue books open... be back in an hour to collect your thoughts.. lol

have a great day ...


    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 12:04PM
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Ken, you are awesome. Yes, I keep coming back. I've poured through gardening books/magazines for years. I should have some memorized. yet it's not the same as real people. I'm saying, as exhausted at present, mother nature...

You must be a lawyer..

I am not naive enough to love them to death in terms of fertilizer late (if ever), etc. You are really great!

    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 12:13PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i will be awaiting your theory ... 42 minutes left.. lol ..


    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 12:16PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i guess she walked out on the exam ....


ps: or has a life.. unlike me .. lol ..

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 9:40AM
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Witch hazels are very sensitive to drought stress and that could be why the flowers don't extend to the ends of the branches. Like many early flowering shrubs, drought or lack of adequate water when the buds are being set (late summer/early fall in this case) can impact flowering. 'Arnold's Promise' is well known for developing great fall color, so an early browning and dropping of foliage is not a good sign. It is also known for retaining its foliage throughout the winter, sometimes even remaining in place when the flowers emerge, necessitating manual removal.

Ideally, these would like a rich, slightly acidic and organic soil. Sited in sun will encourage the heaviest flowering and the best fall coloring but most witch hazels will perform very well in part or dappled shade. And make sure they receive adequate watering. Flower scent can be influenced by a number of things and is always subjective to the 'nose of the beholder' but it tends to be more intense on warmer, sunnier days when it has a chance to 'cook' or mellow a bit. IOW, you may not notice as a strong a fragrance in a cooler, cloudier spring.

And witch hazels are quite slow growing. That "sleep, creep, leap" saying applies to clematis vines and most perennials - not to shrubs, which can take 10 years or more to reach maturity. If you do decide to relocate this shrub, make sure you pick someplace with adequate room. Most witch hazels grow somewhat wider than tall and can eventually get to be 15'x15' or more.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 11:07AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Note that the name is 'Arnold Promise', after the Arnold Arboretum. Witch hazels never flower on the most recent shoots, there is always a foot or so on the ends of vigorous enough growths with no flowers. If instead you have large branches with nothing on them anywhere at this time, in contrast to other branches nearby you may have some Virginia witch hazel rootstock sprouts that need to be pruned out. This is often used to propagate witch hazels sold here and produces thinner leaves than the garden forms placed upon it. If left intact long enough such sprouts produce their own tiny but scented flowers in October, and will vigorously supplant the named variety grafted upon the roots from which they originate.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 12:24PM
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No everyone, I didn't walk out, not by choice (smile). I have a severe illness which leaves me out of commision for days at times. That was the case. Anyway, I got some great anwwers here. I did notice a neighbor has one that is smaller than mine but compared to mine, well.. I no longer worry of mine. Theirs has one flower... mine is doing what you guys say. Thanks! tired, will keep up on threads/posting when I can. THANKS!!!!!


    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 4:18PM
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My Witch Hazel is in flower now 3/26/11. The center is flowering with beautiful yellow flowers, while the outer branches are loaded with tiny red-orange flowers. The plant is apparently grafted. It has been growing this way for 12 years or so and is probably 2/3 root stock. Should I remove the undesirable growth all at once or is such a major job best spread out over time?

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 9:52AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Cut off all of the part you don't like and keep it cut off.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 4:29PM
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blakrab Centex(8a)

You could get a small seedling for $11...

Here is a link that might be useful: HAMAMELIS VIRGINIANA - AMERICAN WITCH HAZEL

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 1:28PM
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