Hamamelis 'Rochester'

Common Name: witch hazel 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Hamamelidaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 6.00 to 9.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 9.00 feet
Bloom Time: January to March
Bloom Description: Copper-orange
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Flower: Showy, Fragrant
Leaf: Good Fall
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 is a genus of 5 to 6 species of deciduous shrubs from East Asia and North America. They are grow for their very early late winter through early spring bloom (H. virginiana flowers in autumn.) Plant them where you can enjoy their very early flowers and showy, yellow fall color.

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).

‘Rochester' is a hybrid witch hazel that originated around 1960 at Durand-Eastman Park in Rochester, New York. It was initially named H. mollis 'Superba' by Richard Fennichia. It typically grows as a somewhat coarse, loosely-branched, upright, deciduous shrub to 9' tall and as wide. It is noted for its early bloom of strongly fragrant, copper-orange flowers which appear in axillary clusters along the bare stems in mid winter (sometimes as early as late December). Each flower has four, narrow, ribbon-like, straight orange petals (each to 1/2" long) with red at the base. Calyx is red. Ovate-rounded leaves (to 4” long) mature to gray-green. Leaves turn yellow in fall.


Caterpillars and Japanese beetles may chew on the leaves. Watch for gall aphids, scale, leafroller and leafminer. Potential diseases include powdery mildew, occasional leaf spots and rots. Insect and disease issues are typically not serious and rarely warrant chemical control.

Unsightly dead leaves are usually retained on 'Rochester' over winter in a manner that somewhat detracts from the ornamental effect of the winter flowers.


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