How to Divide a Witch Hazel Shrub


Witch hazel is a flowering shrub, often growing tall enough--up to 30 feet--to be considered a tree. This aromatic plant has leaves that are 3 to 6 inches long and clustered flowers that vary from bright yellow to orange or red-orange. Witch hazel is an early bloomer, flowering during the warmer days in winter and continuing to flower into spring. While witch hazel does not require division, it can be beneficial to keeping this shrub at a smaller size and increases the amount of plants in your garden. Witch hazel should be divided after its leaves have dropped and when it appears to be going dormant.

Step 1

Rake compost, manure or grass clippings into the loose soil to make it healthier.

Step 2

Identify shrubs that have grown two to three times their original size. Water the plants until they are soaked. The soil should appear completely saturated around the plants. Watering will release the roots and lessen the shock to shrubs when they are removed from the ground.

Step 3

Dig a hole where each new plant will be transplanted (by doing so before dividing, the plant will experience less shock, as it can be placed into the ground immediately). Dig 6 to 8 inches deep and as wide as the width you plan to cut the transplant.

Step 4

Use a shovel to remove soil around the outside of the plant, about 2 inches away from it, working in a circle to a depth of 6 inches or deeper until you can see beneath the roots of the shrub.

Step 5

Remove the shrub from the soil when it appears to be lifting out of the soil. Keep the root ball completely attached to the plant.

Step 6

Use a shovel to cut straight down through the roots from the top of the plant to the bottom of the roots.

Step 7

Continue to cut through the roots until you have two to four shrubs, depending on how large the shrub is and how many smaller shrubs you would like. Each shrub should have a strong, healthy root system.

Step 8

Insert transplants into each hole. Pack soil around each new planting.

Step 9

Place the original shrub back into its hole and pack the soil around it.

Step 10

Water the soil around the shrubs until the ground is well saturated.

Things You'll Need

  • Rake
  • Compost, manure or grass clippings
  • Shovel


  • National Gardening Association: Dividing Perennials
  • Ohio State University: Vernal Witch Hazel

Who Can Help

  • When to Divide Perennials
Keywords: dividing perennials, dividing witch hazel, dividing shrubs

About this Author

Sommer Sharon has a bachelor's degree in IT/Web management from the University of Phoenix and owns a Web consulting business. With more than 12 years of experience in the publishing industry, her work has included "Better Homes and Gardens," "Ladies' Home Journal," "MORE," "Country Home," "Midwest Living," and "American Baby." Sharon now contributes her editorial background by writing for several Internet publications.