Anyone who wants a hazelnut bush in the garden, either to harvest the delicious nuts or as an ornamental eye-catcher, has many options. Specialist shops offer both wild hazelnuts and grafted varieties. But you can also propagate a hazel yourself quite easily. Our instructions explain how to plant and propagate a hazelnut.
When do I plant a hazelnut bush?
The ideal time for planting deciduous shrubs like the hazelnut (Corylus avellana) is autumn. This allows the shrub or tree to take root in its new location before the first winter, without suffering from drought stress in the early stages. As a native woody plant, the hazelnut is absolutely winter-hardy, but it is still better to plant the hazelnut before the first frost threatens.
Planting hazelnut: This is how it is done
The hazelnut does not make any complicated demands on its location. It thrives well in partial shade, but can also grow in a full sun location. Hazelnuts can usually cope with most garden soils – the only exception being very heavy soils or soils affected by persistent waterlogging.
Tip: There is also a solution for gardens with difficult site conditions: we explain how you can improve inhospitable soils in this article:
Improving garden soil – What to look out for?
Planting hazelnut: Instructions in 7 steps
When planting the hazelnut, you should dig a generous planting hole - at least twice as wide and twice as deep as the diameter of the root ball. This makes it easier for the hazelnut to take root. Free the excavated garden soil from coarse stones. You can make rooting even easier by adding compost or fresh plant soil when planting the hazelnut - simply mix the loose, fertile soil 1:1 with the excavated soil. Then add some of this mixture loosely into the planting hole. Then place the hazelnut with its root ball centrally in the planting hole. Fill in the sides with the soil mixture as well. Make sure that the top edge of the root ball is level with the soil and press the soil lightly all around at the end. Finally, water once thoroughly and flush. This ensures that the soil also gets into the cavities and that all roots can make contact with the soil.
Always plant two hazelnuts for fruiting.
Hazelnut bushes are self-fertile. This means that a single plant cannot fertilise itself. So for pollination of the hazelnut cultivars, at least one bush of another variety or a wild hazelnut bush must be nearby. The pollen from the flower catkins is carried by the wind to the next plant.
Propagating and planting hazelnut yourself
There are various methods for propagating a hazelnut bush, whether in the wild form or as a grafted variety from the specialist trade. The following methods are possible:
Cuttings Cuttings Sowing Grafting
In tree nurseries, grafting is used to ensure propagation of a single variety. In this process, a so-called scion (a shoot of the desired variety) and a rootstock (usually the wild species) are cut in such a way that they can be joined together and grow together. This grafting technique is called “copulation” and is used in winter, approximately between December and the beginning of March.
For sowing in autumn you need ripe fruits of the hazelnut bush. Not every nut always grows, so it is worthwhile if you plant several hazelnuts at once. However, this method requires a little patience. It is also important that the nuts receive a cold stimulus so that they can germinate next spring. You can therefore put them directly into the garden soil or first grow them in pots that spend the winter outside.
The lowering method, which you can use in spring, is quicker. To do this, bend down a flexible branch of the hazelnut bush that is close to the ground, then fix it to the garden soil – for example with a peg – and cover it with a layer of soil. The branch takes root quite quickly, can be separated from the mother plant after a few weeks and you can plant a new hazelnut. When fixing the branch, however, it is important that the tip of the shoot is always exposed.
Propagating hazelnuts from cuttings
Propagation by cuttings can be done in autumn and is also suitable for beginners. The rooted shoots can be planted out in the garden as early as next spring. And this is how it works:
Choose strong branch tips for cutting the cuttings and cut them to a length of 10 to 20 centimetres. Then remove all leaves except for one or two pairs of leaves. Then put the short shoots into small planters filled with growing medium and place them in a light location protected from frost. Keep the substrate evenly moist over the next few weeks. By spring, the hazelnut cuttings will have formed their own roots and can be planted out. However, it is better to wait until after the Ice Saints.