Hazel is a fruit shrub that is sought after for its delicious green or blond hazelnuts.
Top Hazel facts, a short list
Name – Corylus avellana
Family – Betulaceae
Type – shrub
Height – 13 to 20 feet (4 to 6 meters)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary, rather light
Foliage – deciduous
Flowering – February to April
Harvest – Fall
But you can also plant it in any other season of the year, as long as you avoid high temperatures in summer and frost spells in winter.
It is critical that you plant 2 different varieties together to ensure fertilization and fruit-bearing. Check when purchasing your hazelnut trees that they belong to different species.
- Since the blooming happens in January, it’s important to have planted your trees before mid-December.
- Feel free add soil conditioner when planting, like fertilizer or compost.
- Incorporate this soil conditioner into your garden soil together with soil mix.
- Dip the root clump of the shrub for a few minutes in a bucket of water before planting.
- This is an important step, so diligently follow our advice on planting shrubs.
Pruning and caring for hazel
Hazel, when well settled in, is a shrub that is easy to care for. Regular pruning will increase the harvest.
The very first pruning is performed upon planting, it is a structural pruning that will select the branches that will become structural branches for the following years.
- Cut the sprigs back by about ⅓ their length.
After that, don’t prune at all for several years so as to give the hazel time to grow.
The second pruning is best done after more or less 5 years, in winter, and keeping the hazel small will increase the harvest.
- Prune when your plant enters the dormant state, from December to mid-February.
- Hazel doesn’t like severe pruning, better to prune only part of the tree every year.
- Cut back new growth by half in order to restrain growth of the hazel to a height of about 6 or 6 ½ feet (1.8 to 2 meters).
- Eliminate dead wood and branches over a decade old.
If you wish to cut the tree back drastically, or prune the tree severely to even out the branches, never do it before the blooming.
Harvesting the hazelnuts
It’s also possible to eat the hazelnuts when still green, but you must eat them immediately because they don’t keep at all.
Their taste is softer and sometimes tart.
Shells are softer and are sometimes easier to slice open with a knife and board than using a nutcracker at this unripe stage.
The most important to keep your hazelnuts over an extended period is to ensure they ripen on the tree until they’re ready.
- Usually, they turn golden brown when ripe.
- They must fall out of their envelope easily.
- Dry the hazelnuts in the open air, but don’t expose them to the sun.
- Keep the hazelnuts in a dry and, if possible, rather cool spot.
Nut weevil, how to get rid of it
The hazelnut weevil or Curculio nucum enters the hazelnut and eats it up entirely.
That makes for quite a bad surprise when you realize your hazelnut is hollow!
- Nut weevils spend winter underground.
- Since they don’t like the cold, simply scratch and turn the surface of the soil to bring them to the surface.
- As soon as it freezes, the pest will die and you should be rid of it…
Learn more about hazel
So set it up in a shrub bed, or add it to your hedge, that will make your hedge even more ornamental and especially, productive!
Hazelnuts are always harvested in fall but even if the hazelnuts themselves are the prime appeal of this large shrub, it also has a definite ornamental value thanks to its delicate and colorful leaves.
Smart tip about hazelnut trees
Remove suckers that grow from the base often.
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Hazel branch shared by JACLOU-DL under © CC0 1.0
Hazelnut seedling shared by stux under © CC0 1.0
Unripe hazelnut harvest shared by monika1607 under © CC0 1.0
Hazel leaves on branch shared by O12 under © CC0 1.0