How to Grow Buttercup Winter Hazel

Butter Cup Winter Hazel Corylopsis pauciflora with blue sky.

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The Buttercup Winter Hazel is a small deciduous shrub in the witch hazel family that is a native of Japan. It grows no higher than six feet tall with a spreading form that fills out to a branchy width that is as wide as it is tall. The foliage is not particularly spectacular in the spring and summer, and can often be lost in these seasons, though it does provide an excellent nesting habitat for birds and small mammals. It is in the fall and especially the winter, as its common name suggests, that the species truly shines. In the fall the leaves turn bright fiery yellows and reds that are much brighter in color than the muted yellow that will be on display later. These fall leaves shed to make way for ghostly gray branches that will. for a short time, exhibit no sign of life at all. That is when the show begins.

Depending on how mild a winter you experienced, new growth will start to develop along the branches of the Buttercup Winter Hazel in the form of reddish flower buds. Soon, these burst open and reveal a pendulous cluster of translucent buttercup shaped and colored flowers. These pale-yellow little flowers will linger for a few weeks to a few months, depending on the weather. While in bloom, be sure to take advantage of their lovely fragrance as much as possible too.

As the weather warms and other plants soon start to show signs of life, the Buttercup Winter Hazel will continue to be of interest. You will notice the plant’s blossoms wilting and falling off and new leaf buds forming. The spring beckoning flowers will make way for the buds. Shoots, that appear as green growth, emerge and the other plants around the Buttercup Winter Hazel enter the limelight to a much more crowded spring stage. 

Botanical Name  Corylopsis pauciflora
Common Name  Buttercup Winter Hazel
Plant Type Shrub
Mature Size 4.00 to 6.00 ft. Tall 4.00 to 6.00 ft. Wide
Sun Exposure Full Sun
Soil Type Rich, medium moisture, well-drained
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Late Winter-  Early Spring
Flower Color Pale Yellow
Hardiness Zone 6 to 8, USA
Native Range Japan
Toxicity Non-toxic

Winter Hazel Care

Picking the perfect place for the Buttercup Winter Hazel is important. Aesthetically, this is a gorgeous plant on its own, there is no doubt about it. Adding elements can and will highlight and add to its features, by using a few things to enhance the beauty that is already there.

First, consider selecting a place to take advantage of its translucent flowers. With the sun shining through the blossoms it will almost create a yellow stained-glass effect. For this, you want a low sun angle. 

Second, consider color theory and negative space. Remember during the fall, winter, and early spring you will have yellow branches. Consider backdropping the shrub with a conifer to give the colors a boost and to work the lighter colored bones of the Buttercup Winter Hazel against the darker conifer. Finally, think about putting some colorful winter blooming herbaceous flowers under the Buttercup Winter Hazel such as Hellebore, Snowdrops, or Winter Aconite.

When you have found a visually appealing place it is time to get planting. It will be a good idea to test the soil before planting. You can add any amendments now if the soil is deficient or in need of some help.  

Planting your Buttercup Winter Hazel will be done as usual for a shrubby tree. Dig a hole wider than deep. Bury shallow, not deep. Refill the hole with a mix of compost, the soil you removed, a few heaping handfuls of perlite and then cover with mulch to the drip line.  You will want to water your plant weekly, deeply, and thoroughly for the first growing season. Once your Buttercup Winter Hazel is established enjoy the hope it instils every year the beautiful smells it unleashes into the crisp winter air. 

Light

Planting the Buttercup Winter Hazel in full sun to part shade will help your plant thrive. More sun will increase the number of blooms on your shrub. As stated above, consider using the sun as a design element when placing the tree in your landscape. 

Soil

The ideal soil for the Buttercup Winter Hazel has a low pH, is organically rich, and well-drained and not compact. 

Water

Once established, watering the Buttercup Winter Hazel can be left to nature unless you live in an especially dry area or you are experiencing a drought. 

Temperature and Humidity

The Winter Hazel is hardy to Zones 6 to 8. Flower buds can be damaged from early spring frosts. The shrub is also susceptible to damage from high winds. Placing the tree in a sheltered area can help it thrive. 

Fertilizer

Yearly feeding can help with flower production.  The Buttercup Winter Hazel enjoys acidic soils, so testing the soil pH yearly to see what fertilizer will be most beneficiall should be a priority.  

Is the Buttercup Winter Hazel Toxic?

The Buttercup Winter Hazel is not known to be toxic.