SHOWY, FRAGRANT GARDEN SHRUB
Attractive winter flowers, pleasant fragrance and interesting growth habit combine to make the 'Winter Hazel' Corylopsis a bright addition to the late winter and early spring garden. Easy to grow this is only one of many deciduous plants that thrives on a certain amount of neglect. Give it a prominent place in the garden where you can enjoy both its seasonal flowers and fragrance.
Ever wonder why so many winter flowering plants have fragrance? It is 'Mother Nature's' way of attracting insects for proper pollination, during the colder winter months, when not many insects are present in the garden.
Clusters of bell-shaped, soft yellow fragrant flowers hang from the bare branches in late winter and earliest spring. The cut branches are very popular to use in floral arrangements, because of their beauty and branch structure. Likewise the plants provide an attractive flowering display in the garden, at a time when there is not much in bloom.
The leaves develop after the flowers have finished, and are hazel-like in appearance. At first the leaves have a soft pink tinge, then turn green as they begin to mature. The autumn leaf color of most varieties is yellow.
As a rule the plants tend to develop a rather attractive open growth habit. However, if desired, they can be encouraged to bush out with simple pruning, after flowering..
USES IN THE LANDSCAPE
Since Corylopsis is a deciduous shrub, the plant will show-off best when it is planted in a spot with an evergreen background. The taller growing varieties are nicely used as semi-background plants, while the lower growing varieties are often used in mid-bed plantings. The use of winter flowering heathers at their base draws attention to the plants and is an ideal companion plant for seasonal color.
SPECIAL PLANTING REQUIREMENTS
First, this plant requires an acid soil, like you would prepare for rhododendrons or azaleas. Second, it requires a well-drained soil. Third, most varieties do best if they are planted in a spot where they get protection from the hot mid-day sun and severe winds. Plant growth tends to be rather slow.
When preparing the soil for planting, mix generous amounts of organic humus with the existing soil. Peat moss, compost and processed manure are excellent sources of organic matter. Use about one-third of any or all of these forms of organic-humus with your existing soil. Be certain to set the plant right at ground level. In other words, the top of the root ball should be level with the soil surface.
This is one plant that thrives on a certain amount of neglect and if properly planted will seldom require much care. However, if the plant leaves show signs of nutritional deficiency then feed it with a rhododendron type of fertilizer. The best time to apply the fertilizer would be in late winter or earliest spring. If you use a dry type fertilizer be sure to water-in thoroughly after application.
Although pruning is seldom required, if needed, it can be done immediately after flowering. Or, better yet, prune during the flowering season, using the cut branches for floral arrangements.
There are several named varieties offered by specialty nurseries. They are difficult to find, but rewarding if you can find them. The following are a few of the most readily available ones:
Corylopsis glabrescans: This is one variety that can tolerate either full sun or part sun and shade. At maturity it can reach a height of up to 15 feet. Often called the 'Winter Hazel'. Flowers are soft yellow.
Corylopsis pauciflora: Soft yellow late winter flowers on a slow growing shrub which grows 4 to 6 feet high. Needs protection from wind and sun.
Corylopsis sinensis: This variety is from China, where as the others are Japanese varieties. It is very hardy and grows slowly to 12 to 15 feet. The flowers are a bit larger than the others.
Corylopsis spicata: Eventual growing height is approximately 8 to 10 feet. It flowers a couple of weeks later than the others.
If you're looking for interesting plants to add color to the late winter garden, here's one you'll definitely want to consider.