Q: I have a witch hazel plant in a container. This summer while I was away the soil became completely dry and the leaves all turned brown. The leaves have not fallen off, but I haven’t seen any new growth, although I continue to water it. Is there a way for me to tell whether the plant is truly dead?
A: It’s easy – scratch the bark with a thumbnail. If it’s green underneath, there’s hope. Your witch hazel may be severely weakened but the plant still has a chance to leaf out in spring. You’ll have to wait until April for a final diagnosis.