Hamamelis × intermedia 'Early Bird'
Common Name: witch hazel 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Hamamelidaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 7.00 to 9.00 feet
Spread: 7.00 to 9.00 feet
Bloom Time: January to February
Bloom Description: Pale yellow petals
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Erosion, Clay Soil


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best flowering is in full sun. Prefers moist, acidic, organically rich soils. Consistent moisture is best (leaf scorch may occur during periods of summer drought). Shrubs have some tolerance for clay soils as long as drainage is good. Promptly remove root suckers to prevent colonial spread. It is particularly important to remove root suckers rising from below a graft union. Prune in spring after flowering to control shape and size.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Hamamelis × intermedia hybrids are crosses between Japanese witch hazel (H. japonica) and Chinese witch hazel (H. mollis). They are somewhat coarse, loosely-branched, medium to large, deciduous shrubs that typically grow 12-20’ tall. They are particularly noted for their spidery, often fragrant, mid- to late winter flowers which appear before the spring foliage emerges.

Genus name comes from the Greek words hama meaning at same time and melon meaning apple or fruit in reference to the occurrence of both fruit and flowers at the same time on this shrub (particularly in the case of fall flowering members of the genus).

The hybrid name intermedia is in reference to the hybrid characteristics being intermediate between the characteristics of the two parent species.

‘Early Bird’ has yellow flowers. It typically matures as a compact, upright shrub to 7-9’ tall and as wide. Showy flowers in axillary clusters bloom along the bare stems in mid-winter. As suggested by the cultivar name, 'Early Bird' is one of the earliest of the witch hazels to bloom each year. Each flower has four, narrow, ribbon-like, curled and crinkly, pale yellow petals (each to 3/4" long). Calyx is maroon-red. Flowers lack fragrance. Ovate-rounded, dark green leaves (to 3 1/4” long) turn yellow with maroon tinting in fall.


Caterpillars and Japanese beetles may chew on the leaves. Watch for gall aphids, weevils, scale, leafroller and leafminer. Potential diseases include powdery mildew, occasional leaf spots and rots.


Superior winter-flowering shrub for the landscape. Shrub borders, woodland gardens. Screen or tall hedge. Good specimen.