Hazelnut Tree Growing Requirements, Maintenance, & More (2023)

Growing hazelnuts may be easier than you think. Here’s how to grow your hazelnut tree in your garden or backyard. Although many home gardeners may be hesitant to buy a hazelnut tree due to water requirements, spacing, and other issues, this guide will give you a complete picture of how you can succeed.

Hazelnuts are also called filberts. They are nutritious and are a good protein source. The good news is you can grow your own. Hazelnut trees take around 3 – 4 years to bear fruit and up to 8 – 9 years if you grow the plant from seed. Patience will pay off with a hazelnut harvest.

It is important to grow more than one hazelnut tree. They need to crosspollinate in order to produce nuts. Check with your local garden center or nursery to be sure you purchase compatible species. Decide which type of hazelnut you want to grow, and then they will tell you which will be able to pollinate it. Hazelnut trees are pollinated by wind.

Hazelnut Varieties

The hazelnut family includes cobnuts, filberts, and more. Each type produces a stunning yellow catkin that dangles down, and you can spot it in early spring or late winter.

The catkin is the male part that contains the pollen required to fertilize the female flower found at the tips of the branches.

Of course, there are also differences between the varieties. For example, filbert husks cover the shell entirely, while that doesn’t happen for cobs and hazels. Some hazel varieties also have more beauty characteristics other than the chandelier-style mass of catkins.

For example, Corylus avellana is a corkscrew hazel named for its contorted, twisted stems. In fact, you can find them in a variety of winter floral arrangements.

You’ve also got Corylus maxima, a filbert with purple leaves that can add some contrast to your garden. When you eat them, you may be surprised that the husks are also of a purple hue.

Hazelnut Tree Planting 101

First of all, hazelnut trees are easy to grow; however, you should be in hardiness zones 4 – 9. This is where hazelnuts grow best. Certain hazelnut varieties do better in zones 4 – 6 while others do better in 7 – 9.

There are a lot of benefits when you grow your own hazelnut tree. One is that it is easy to grow hazelnuts because they don’t have many special needs. Likewise, hazelnut trees are very hardy and can deal with cold and wet winters.

As such, you can put them in problem areas within your garden and still have trees that produce something. Plus, you can protect and feed the local wildlife when you grow them as a hedgerow.

When you decide to grow hazelnuts, you will need to grow more than one tree so they will cross pollinate.

(Video) Raintree Nursery's Hazelnut Growing Guide

Things to Consider about Hazelnut Trees

Hazelnuts are naturally fertile, so they prefer well-drained soil that doesn’t have a lot of nutrients. If you plant them on more fertile soils, you will have trees with lots of leaves, but fewer nuts and flowers.

It also helps if you plant them all in a group. That way, the pollen drifts from one hazelnut plant to the next. Keep in mind, though, that other trees from the neighborhood can pollinate the hazelnuts, too.

That means they also prefer open sites so that other plants can pollinate them effectively.

If you have more room in your garden, hazelnut trees are ideal for creating a small orchard. You can place the trees about 15 feet apart so that they have plenty of room to grow.

You can also create a grove of various varieties to help with pollination. Just make sure that you check the compatibility of pollination for the trees that you grow so that it is a good match. For more successful pollination, all varieties should be flowering at the same time.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that you should plant it in the spring after the first frost.

Planting Procedure

The first thing you need to do is wet the roots and then create a hole deep and wide enough to accommodate the root system. Look for the “J” loop and plant the tree about 12 inches from that base.

Refill the hole with some enhanced soil. It would be best if you use soil specifically designed for hazelnuts. Your garden center or nursery will show you what to get.

Make sure the soil is tamped firmly around the roots while you’re adding each shovel-full.

Once the hole is about 3/4 full, add about two gallons of water. You can use liquid fertilizer with the last gallon of water.

If you choose to plant the tree in the fall, consider waiting until spring to fertilize. Then, completely fill the hole with soil.

Alternatively, you can grow a hazelnut tree from previously harvested hazelnuts. This process takes a long time because the nuts have to germinate. People also often find it easier to purchase a small shrub or tree and replant it in the garden or yard.

(Video) Hazelnut Growing Practices with Don Blake


While hazelnut trees are relatively low maintenance, there are a few things you will need to do so they will produce.


You will need to prune your bare root tree to force it to grow stronger and maintain its trunk. If you have a potted nut tree, you can skip pruning.

To prune them, make sure that you cut away one-third of the oldest growth. Do this by sawing or cutting the stems back to the ground level.

  • You can also thin out overcrowded areas to keep the center of the tree airy and light.
  • Cut crossing branches and leave the twig-like, young growth because this has the female flowers.

You may find suckers growing from the root of the plant, usually found near the main trunk or stem. It will also help if you pull or dig them out to prevent yourself from having a mass of stems.

Protect trunk

Consider wrapping the trunk with a tree guard to protect it from sun scald and injury from rodents. Make sure that you mulch around the tree a month after planting it to keep the weeds away from the tree. Refresh as needed.

It is also best not to allow the soil around your hazelnut shrub to completely dry out. During the dry season, you should water weekly. Allow as much water as you can to sink into the soil.


Your shrubs might not need fertilization regularly if you used good soil. That said, nitrogen is essential for growth, while potassium is essential for better quality, increased yields, and the ability to resist disease.

Consider higher NPK amounts in your fertilizer when the hazelnut shrub’s leaves are yellow, or you experience slow growth. Choose organic fertilizer when possible.


Squirrels love nuts of all sorts and are highly determined and acrobatic to boot. You may find it a challenge to keep the hazelnuts safe from them.

Since they are tree-like, the bushes are easy prey, and although you could use a wire-mesh fruit cage, it may not deter squirrels and other rodents.

Instead, just watch to make sure the squirrels aren’t taking too many. If they do, it’s probably time to pick them all if you can.

Hazelnut Tree Growing Requirements, Maintenance, & More (1)

How to Harvest and Dry the Hazelnuts

Your hazelnuts will be ready in autumn once the husks are yellow. You can pick the growing hazelnuts directly from the tree if you want, but when fully ripened, you can shake them directly into a sheet or tarp.

(Video) Hazelnut Orchard Irrigation Trends & Considerations

Often, hazelnuts fall from the tree by themselves, and it might be easier to rake them all into a pile. The first few nuts you get could be empty; this is normal.

Make sure that you store the nuts in an airy, dry place, such as in nets, crates, slatted boxes, and cloth bags.

Spread the nuts on a tray to dry them, but make sure you turn them every couple of days to get even results. It’s best to dry them inside in a warm place for about two or three weeks.

When they’re completely dry, scrape away the husks and store them inside their shells. Alternatively, you can shell them and then store them in a covered glass container.

Hazelnut FAQs

1. What Does a Hazelnut Tree Look Like?

Hazelnuts aren’t trees in the normal sense, but bushes that can grow quite tall and high without pruning. Usually, the hazelnut tree features heart-shaped leaves, which alternate along its branches.

Often, the leaves are pale in the back and darker in front. They also have double-serrated edges and a pointy tip, similar to that of a bread knife. Its leaves are usually five inches long and can be up to three inches wide.

2. How Tall Do Hazelnut Trees Grow?

In its bush form, hazelnut trees can grow between eight and 12 feet. On the other hand, single-stem trees can grow as wide as their height, from 14 to 16 feet.

3. How Long Do Hazelnut Trees Live?

Your hazelnut tree can live to be about 40 years old, and they produce nuts throughout their lifespan. Certain diseases can kill your hazelnut tree. Root rot caused by honey-colored mushroom clusters is one of the most common.

They sprout at your tree’s base and take away the nutrients your hazelnut tree needs. This causes leaf discoloration, branch death, and, ultimately, tree death. Another is Eastern Filbert Blight, which shows up as cankers on the top branches, though they can appear anywhere. You can prune away twigs and branches with canker to prevent this disease from killing your hazelnut trees.

4. How Long Does It Take a Hazelnut Tree to Produce Nuts?

If you grow a hazelnut tree from seed, it will take 8 years or longer to bear fruit. If you grow hazelnut trees from a hazelnut tree sapling, it will produce nuts in 3 – 4 years.

5. Where Do Hazelnuts Grow Best?

Hazelnuts grow best in USDA hardiness zones 4 – 9.

Grow Hazelnuts and Enjoy Their Benefits!

Having a hazelnut plant adds color and depth to your garden, depending on the type you plan to grow. Planting them isn’t as difficult as it seems, but will require quite a bit of maintenance, especially pruning.

(Video) Planting Hazelnuts

You also need to be watchful of squirrels that might feed on the growing hazelnuts since they will eat both ripe and unripe nuts.

These trees, though, live long enough to provide you with delicious nuts that you can eat as is or use in recipes. They are nutritious and filled with protein.

The ways to prepare them are endless. You can roast them in the oven or an open fire. Baked hazelnuts can also be delicious, and you can try salt and pepper or other herbs. You can also grind hazelnuts into a paste.

You can give them away, trade them, or sell the nuts if you want to. Peanut Plant Growing Guide for Home Gardeners

With backyard or garden trees that bear hazelnuts, you can save or even make money and enjoy some greenery and healthy snacks while creating a sustainable lifestyle.

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(Video) The Urban Farmstead: Planting Hazelnut Trees 3 of 4


How do you take care of a hazelnut tree? ›

Never allow the soil around a hazelnut tree or shrub to dry out completely. Water weekly during dry spells, allowing as much water as possible to sink deep into the soil. Hazelnuts don't need regular fertilization if they are grown in good soil.

What do hazelnut trees need to grow? ›

The American hazelnut grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, well-drained and clay soils. It is drought-tolerant.

Do hazelnut trees need a lot of water? ›

Hazelnut trees should be irrigated every year during the periods of low rainfall. Irrigation is most important in planting establishment to promote adequate root development. Sufficient water must be used to wet the entire rooting zone. Adequate water is critical during the nut fill period from mid-July to mid-August.

Where do hazelnut trees grow best? ›

Hazelnuts thrive in well-drained, loamy soil but grow in many soil types as long as the soil is well-drained. Nut production is best when cross pollination occurs with another variety of the same species (see Tables 1 and 2) or with other seed grown plants of the same species.

What kind of fertilizer do hazelnut trees need? ›

Granular, liquid or stake type fertilizers can be used. Granular types should be worked into the soil around the plant at a rate of 2 pounds or 2 pints per 100 square feet of planting bed. An alternative way is to drill or punch 6″ deep holes at the drip line of the plant.

What nutrients do hazelnut trees need? ›

“Hazelnuts like a higher level of potash—some people call it potassium—and phosphorus in valley soils. South of Salem tends to have lower levels of those.” Telly adds that there are pockets of different types of soil all over the valley.

Do hazelnut trees need pruning? ›

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).

What conditions do hazelnut trees like? ›

Hazels like a moist but free draining soil, in a bright, sunny situation. The production of hazelnuts is likely to be better if your tree is sheltered. They naturally grow as multi-stemmed bushes - you often see them in hedgerows. So for the home gardener they can provide useful screening and shelter for tender plants.

Should I prune my hazelnut bush? ›

Hazelnuts can be pruned in the winter, spring, or summer. Pruning during the dormant season will generate the most vigorous growth the following spring. Spring or summer pruning generates much less return growth, and is useful in removing suckers and low hanging limbs. Prune branches so that you don't leave stubs.

How long does it take for a hazelnut tree to bear nuts? ›

It can take 6 to 10 years until both crops will be mature enough to harvest. Read the interview below to learn more about growing hazelnut trees or shrubs together with truffles.

Should I fertilize hazelnut trees? ›

Fertilize your tree in the spring with a well-balanced fertilizer. Sprinkle the fertilizer at the drip line of the tree.

Do hazelnuts have deep roots? ›

Although most of a hazelnut tree's roots are found in the first 2 feet (0.6 meters) of soil, suitable soils allow trees to develop active root systems to depths of 6–10 feet (1.8–3 meters).

Do you need 2 hazelnut trees to get nuts? ›

Hazelnuts are monoecious, meaning they have separate male and female flowers on the same tree. Male and female flowers may bloom at different times. Hazelnuts are self-incompatible, which means a tree cannot set nuts with its own pollen. Also, cer- tain combinations of varieties are cross-incompatible.

Can you eat hazelnuts fresh off the tree? ›

Fresh Hazelnuts

You can eat hazelnuts straight from the tree, provided you have something that can break them open. A hazelnut is ripe when its fuzzy outer husk splits and exposes its hard shell, which must be cracked open to obtain the edible kernel, or nut meat.

Are hazelnut trees easy to grow? ›

First of all, hazelnut trees are easy to grow; however, you should be in hardiness zones 4 – 9. This is where hazelnuts grow best. Certain hazelnut varieties do better in zones 4 – 6 while others do better in 7 – 9.

What do you spray on hazelnut trees? ›

Fungicides are best used to protect susceptible tissue in the spring at budbreak and for the next eight weeks. Most fungicides will last two weeks before another application is needed. This means a total of four applications, starting with the first at budbreak.

Do you have to spray hazelnut trees? ›

Spraying is important to the survival of your trees. To handle potential diseases and pests, reference the guidelines below to know what you should spray, and when you should use it.

How long does it take for a hazelnut tree to produce fruit? ›

Another wonderful thing about hazelnut trees is you don't have to wait long before the tree will bear nuts for you to eat. Hazel trees start bearing in as little as 4 years and heavy yields in year six or seven. Also, you can choose to grow it as a bush or a single stem tree.

How much water does a hazelnut need? ›

Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1-2 inches of rain per week during the growing season. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level.

Why is my hazelnut tree dying? ›

The fungus that causes this blight, Anisogramma anomala, is considered the worst pathogen to plague hazelnut orchards. If it's not controlled, it rapidly spreads from tree to tree, and orchard to orchard. There is no cure for this disease, and it can kill all parts of the tree except the roots.

What time of year do you prune hazel? ›

When to cut: Cutting back can wait until late spring, after the catkins have dropped. For best results and more robust stems, coppicing on a rotation of at least every 5-10 years is recommended, as this gives the roots a chance to establish. When tackling a hazel, remove branches in stages.

How long do hazelnut trees last? ›

The nut is oval in shape and yellow to brown in colour. Each has a pale scale at its base. When ripe, the nut falls from the husk to the ground. Hazenut can reach a height of 3–8 m (10–26 ft) and can live for many years, although its commercial lifespan is usually about 40 years.

Do hazelnut bushes spread? ›

Like many other native plants, the American Hazelnut will spread by underground rhizomes and form a hedgerow. The male catkins form in fall and overwinter.

How do I protect my hazelnut tree from deer? ›

Consider using a double parallel fence of about 4 – 6ft with a few feet in between. You can also erect a tall fence (using any material of your choice) of about 8 to 10 feet. This is perhaps the best way to protect your hazelnuts from deer.

Do hazelnut trees lose their leaves in the winter? ›

Hazelnuts are deciduous; their leaves are alternate, serrate, obovate, and hairy. The plants range from 3 to 36 metres (10 to 120 feet) in height. In late winter a profusion of yellow male catkins and smaller red-centred clusters of female flowers appear on the same tree.

Do deer eat hazelnut bushes? ›

The nuts of American hazelnut, which have a higher nutritional value than acorns and beechnuts, also are eaten by squirrels, foxes, deer, northern bobwhite, ruffed grouse, turkey, woodpeckers, pheasants, and deer. The leaves, twigs, and catkins are browsed by rabbits, deer, and moose.

How do you fertilize a hazelnut tree? ›

Apply 1/8 pound, or 5 tablespoons, of slow-release nitrogen fertilizer in early spring the year after planting the tree.

Is hazelnut a tree or bush? ›

Don't worry – the word 'tree' is a technicality here; hazelnuts are generally grown as a bushy shrub and can be kept to a very manageable size by pruning. If you have the space, try planting a small orchard of hazelnuts, setting trees about 4m (15ft) apart to give them plenty of room.

What can I plant near a hazelnut tree? ›

Expect a good seed crop every 2-‐3 years. SUGGESTED CARE: Easily grown. Protect from rabbits with a fence. COMPANION PLANTS: Grey dogwood, black cherry, white ash, shagbark hickory, red and black oak, wild geranium, agrimony, hog peanut, strawberry, Solomon's plume.

Are hazelnut trees messy? ›

I grew up in the area and I'm not a big fan of filbert/hazelnut trees in the home garden because the trees are prone to suckering, are quite messy and they can attract squirrels.

Are hazel tree roots invasive? ›

Their roots are non-invasive, so they also associate well with other woodlanders, such as epimedium, hellebore and snowdrop, and once they are in leaf their foliage is soft, cool on the eye and light enough to dapple shadow.

What is the best hazelnut tree? ›

Wepster trees are at the top of the list for vigor, kernel fiber and kernel percentage. These traits make them desirable in the expanding kernel marketplace; Wepster kernels are coveted for candy and confections. Wepster trees are some of the first to harvest and relatively easy to manage with upright growth habits.

Can you eat hazelnuts straight from the shell? ›

Hazelnuts can be eaten right out of the shell, although a quick toasting of the nut brings out a rich, more intense flavour. To dry roast: Preheat the oven to 350 F and spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a thin layer.

Do squirrels eat hazelnuts? ›

Hazelnuts are the preferred food of Red and Grey Squirrels and they contain nearly all the nutrition that they need, whereas feeding too many peanuts can leave them with calcium and vitamin deficiencies.

What animals eat hazelnuts? ›

There are a few animals that like to eat off or look at the American Hazelnut are squirrels, foxes, deer, northern bobwhite, ruffed grouse, turkey, woodpeckers, pheasants, and deer. The leaves, twigs, and catkins are browsed by rabbits, deer, and moose.

Are hazelnut trees Frost tolerant? ›

Hazelnuts have a number of unique characteristics which include flowering periods of weeks or even months between pollination and fertilisation. They can also tolerate temperatures down to –10°C during the period of pollination and are usually unaffected by late spring frosts.

Do you prune hazelnut trees? ›

Hazelnuts can be pruned in the winter, spring, or summer. Pruning during the dormant season will generate the most vigorous growth the following spring. Spring or summer pruning generates much less return growth, and is useful in removing suckers and low hanging limbs. Prune branches so that you don't leave stubs.

Do deer like hazelnuts? ›

The nuts of American hazelnut, which have a higher nutritional value than acorns and beechnuts, also are eaten by squirrels, foxes, deer, northern bobwhite, ruffed grouse, turkey, woodpeckers, pheasants, and deer. The leaves, twigs, and catkins are browsed by rabbits, deer, and moose.

Do deer affect hazelnut trees? ›

Yes, they do. They can eat nuts, twigs, and shoots, causing undue damage to young hazelnut trees. To deter deer from your fields, install a fence, use repellents, and implement a diligent strategy that can keep deer away from your trees.

How much space does a hazelnut tree need? ›

Space your hazelnut trees 15' to 18' apart. Wet roots thoroughly before planting. Dig a hole wide and deep enough to accommodate the “J” type root system. Plant 12” above the base of the “J” loop.

Are hazelnuts hard to grow? ›

Hazelnuts are the easiest nuts to grow – perfect for nervous would-be nutters! The hazelnut family Corylus includes the common hazel and closely related cobnuts and filberts.

What kind of soil do hazelnuts like? ›

However, as with most plants, hazelnuts are most vigorous on well-drained loamy soils with high fertility. Optimal soil pH is not known, but as with soil types, hazelnuts are widely adapted and occur on a range of pH from 4.5 up to 7.5. Both native species are hardy to Zone 3.


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