How To Plant & Grow Hazelnuts (Filbert) Trees
You can grow hazelnut trees through seeds, stem cuttings, or nursery bought seedlings. Plant them in full sun and well drained loamy, acidic or alkaline soil – they aren’t picky. They require lesser space than other nut trees to grow as well.
Hazelnut belongs to the birch family Betulaceae and has a natural distribution across the Northern Hemisphere. They grow between 10 and 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide, making them large shrubs and small trees.
They need space to grow but are ideal for tiny home gardens, which is why many home growers are keen to learn ‘how do hazelnuts grow’.
Fortunately, hazelnuts are easy to grow. You can let them grow naturally as a shrub or prune them to maintain their short tree feel. Either way, they are a valuable addition to any landscape.
Also known as filbert trees, they are hardy in USDA hardiness zones four through eight. If growing in the coldest end of the range, you must pick American hazelnuts as they are more cold-tolerant than their European counterparts.
They can tolerate temperatures up to 15 degrees, but if it goes lower, it might result in crop loss. Hazels can thrive in full sun in any soil, provided it is well-drained, but they do best in soil rich with organic matter. Water the soil deeply after plantation and try to grow two different varieties of hazelnuts for excellent pollination.
Why Are Hazelnuts Popular?
Hazelnut spread, hazelnut coffee, and hazelnuts – We all have one thing to thank for: Corylus avellana or the Hazelnut Tree. But these delicious treats are not solely the reason why hazelnuts are so popular.
You can try your luck with learning how to grow a hazelnut tree as they have many functional and environmental benefits. Moreover, since they can take pruning well, they are widely employed in making hedgerows.
They are also a food source for small mammals and birds, making your landscape a miniature wildlife reserve. The plant is also valued for its aesthetic value.
How To Grow Hazelnuts From Seeds?
You can grow hazelnuts via seeds, cuttings, or by buying a small plant from the nursery.
A. Planting Hazelnut Seeds
If you have ample time and are not in rush to bring home your first harvest, you can consider growing the hazelnuts from seeds. It can be an incredibly economical option. If you get wild seeds from another hazel, it can be 100% free.
Now, follow these steps:
- Before sowing the seeds, you must test their viability. So, submerge them in water and eliminate all seeds that float onto the top.
- Score seeds to facilitate germination by employing a file to form a small slash in the outer seed coat.
- Plant them in fall approximately two inches deep and fifteen feet apart, ensuring that the pointed side faces downwards. Alternatively, you can start the seeds in a container in the fall. So, take an eight-inch container seed and plant it an inch or two deep into the potting soil.
- After fall comes winter, so add a thick mulch layer or a cold frame to shield them against harsh weather.
Now be patient because germination will take several months.
You have learned how do hazelnuts grow, so what to do after planting?
- Move the pot outside on a covered porch or to a spot that would not become waterlogged.
- After spring arrives, you must water daily to maintain moisture.
- In a few weeks, you will see the seedlings.
- Alternatively, you can cold-stratify the seeds indoors by keeping them in a zip-lock bag containing 1-part peat moss and 1-part sand.
- Over the winter, let it sit in the refrigerator.
- Finally, move it to a warmer spot in the house and let it be put for a few days till you see signs of germination.
- Once the seeds sprout, plant every seedling in an 8-inch pot containing potting soil
- Continue growing the seedlings in the pot across the summer. Move them to a shaded spot, and finally, shift them to their permanent location in the fall till they are about eight inches tall.
How To Grow Hazelnuts From Cuttings?
You can plant the cuttings or as nursery stock in the ground in winter or late fall during dormancy. It helps avoid the need for watering and heat stress. It is vital to be cautious when handling the cuttings because they are fragile.
An essential factor you must know when learning how to plant hazelnut trees is that you must plant them 15-20 feet apart in holes dug to the root depth and two times as wide.
Hazelnut Tree Growing Conditions and Care Guidelines
We have discussed the basics behind cultivating hazelnuts from seeds and cuttings. To be clear on how do hazelnuts grow healthy, you must be aware of their ideal growing condition requirements.
Here is what you need to do to care for hazelnut trees:
It is vital to keep hazelnut trees well-watered to ensure good nut and flower production.
Hazelnuts do not have a drought tolerance so how do filberts grow when there is a shortage. They lose their taste and texture. So, they require supplemental water to continue being a viable producer if you expect fruits during the dry weather.
You can water it using the same standard rule after planting – 10 gallons per inch of trunk diameter. This rule goes a long way in keeping your hazelnuts blossoming and green, even in the driest weather.
C. Soil selection and preparation (pH, drainage, soil type)
It is apparent that hazelnuts are very adaptable. They can thrive in almost all growing conditions but do not love acidic soil. However, they can cope with alkaline, neutral, or even highly alkaline compositions.
The plant can survive almost all soil types but do well in top-quality loam that is neither excessively fertile nor poor. Yields will be the best when the soil is neither poor nor excessively rich.
As for clay soils, such soils will have poor drainage. Hence, they must be amended with ample organic matter to better the drainage, as hazelnut does best in free-draining, moist soils.
D. How to plant hazelnut trees?
While digging hole for hazelnut plant, keep it twice as wide and as deep as the root ball. Now, cautiously insert the plant to ensure it is at the same depth it was before. Fill in the hole and continue firming the soil.
Till the plant matures, water it, especially during droughts. Ensure there is at least a 12-20 feet distance between them. It gives them ample space for them to develop.
When you plant a hazel, consider mulching with organic material, bark, or wood chip. Woody mulches boost fungal soil development, which can be beneficial when the trees establish.
F. Temperature and humidity
Hazels thrive in temperate regions. However, they do not do well at surviving deep freezes. In addition, they cannot survive extreme humidity and heat. But, as opposed to the many trees, Hazelnuts can do a decent job withstanding harsh wind compared to the other trees.
However, that is the only extreme that they can survive. Regardless of whether you learn how to grow a hazelnut tree and want to keep the plant thriving, it is best to grow it in USDA hardiness zones four through eight. If not, you can try mimicking the conditions as closely as possible.
To ensure good fruit production and blooms, apply an organic slow-release fruiting fertilizer during the fall.
If pruning isn’t done in time, how do hazelnuts grow? It gets all haywire. So, you must understand the pruning mechanism. The first pruning should happen instantly after planting. It is called structural pruning, which decides the branches that will become structural for the coming years.
Cut the sprigs back by around ½ of their length. Following this, do not prune for several years. It will give hazel ample time to grow, provided you adhere to all the steps listed above for ‘how to grow hazelnuts.’
The second pruning session will happen in winter after five years. Keeping it small works well for amplifying harvest.
Here are tips for pruning:
- Prune while the plant is in the dormant stage from December to mid-February.
- Hazel does not cherish heavy pruning. So, you must prune only a part of the tree annually.
- Cut back new growth by half to curtail the hazel growth to a height of approximately six or six and a half feet.
- Eliminate dead branches and wood that is a decade older.
An essential thing we cannot miss mentioning in this ‘how do filberts grow’ guide is that if you have to prune the trees severely, go ahead and do it, but never before the blooming.
On average, it takes four years for the trees to yield nuts. If the plant is mature for the harvest, the nuts tend to drop from the branches in autumn as they ripen. You only have to put a tarp under the tree or rake them into a pile for collection.
Now that you have learned how to grow hazelnuts, it’s time now to understand how to store them after harvest. Take the collected nuts and lay them on the trays. Now, move them to a warm place, away from the sun, for a couple of weeks.
Flip them every couple of days. Once they dry, scrape off the papery husk covering. Store or shell them in the shells.
In the shell, you can preserve them at room temperature for a couple of months. You can refrigerate them for a year or eat the shelled nuts within a few weeks.
Hazelnut Tree Problems – Pests and Diseases
Even though hazelnuts are easy to grow, there are some prevalent issues that you must watch out for a healthy hazelnut lifespan. Here are some pests, diseases, animals, and diseases that may damage your hazelnuts.
Protect the delicious nut from herbivore animals
The nuts are tasty. So, herbivores love them. But if you do not want to share your nuts with forest beings, you must watch out for small and large critters that may steal your crops.
Rabbits and deer love catkins, branches, and leaves from hazelnuts, and squirrels love their nuts.
So, how do hazelnuts grow protected from animals? Of course, you cannot pluck them from the trees before it is time, but you must be vigilant and pick the nuts before the squirrels feast on them. You can use wire cages to shield your young trees from herbivores.
Several insects also love hazelnuts. So, watch out for these insects to prevent damage to your crops. Some of these include:
1. Acorn Moth or Filbert Worm – These lay eggs on hazelnut husks, and when the young larvae emerge, they feed on the developing nuts and destroy the kernels. Fungal pathogens and secondary bacteria might also infect the nuts.
But predatory insects like parasitic wasps love eating the larvae. So, grow several flowering perennials like marigolds, daisies, and dill to reduce pests and amplify the presence of beneficial insects.
2. Nut Weevils – These feed on the leaves and the bud in spring and destroy the foliage. In early summer, they lay eggs on the developing nuts. The larvae show up in late summer to create holes in the shell and feed on the nuts.
The affected nuts do not drop, and you may end up harvesting them with the healthier nuts. It can badly affect your healthy crop too. So, place tarps under the trees after a rainstorm during late summer and shake every tree till the adult weevils drop to the ground.
They stay put for a few minutes post the drop. Now collect them in a bucket full of soapy water and discard them. Continue doing so till early fall.
The diseases that love the wet soil are most susceptible to affecting hazelnuts. So, ensure you do not overwater them and grow them in well-draining soil.
Some diseases that affect hazelnuts are:
- Bacterial Blight
- Armillaria Root Rot
- Bacterial Canker
- Eastern Filbert Blight
How does a hazelnut grow when affected by such diseases? They tend to rot with unhealthy growth. So, be vigilant and instantly discard the affected plant.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Hazelnuts?
The nits usually start appearing two to three years after planting. However, if you grow from seeds, it may take around eight years.
What US State Produces The Most Hazelnuts?
Oregon produces ninety-nine percent of hazelnuts in America.