The American Hazelnut tree, also known as Corylus americana, is a native shrub found across much of North America. Here's a detailed description along with planting instructions:
Appearance: American Hazelnut is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub that can grow up to 10 feet (3 meters) tall and wide. It forms dense thickets in the wild but can be trained into a small tree with selective pruning.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate, oval to rounded, and have doubly serrated margins. They are medium green in color and turn yellow to orange in the fall, providing a beautiful autumn display.
Flowers: In early spring, American Hazelnut produces catkins consisting of male flowers that are yellow and drooping, while female flowers are small, reddish, and inconspicuous. The plant is monoecious, meaning both male and female flowers are found on the same plant.
Fruit: The female flowers develop into edible nuts encased in husks. The nuts are small, round, and have a sweet, nutty flavor. They mature in late summer to early fall and are often consumed by wildlife such as squirrels, birds, and deer.
Climate and Location:
American Hazelnut thrives in a wide range of climates and is well-adapted to temperate regions of North America. It grows best in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 9.
Choose a planting location that receives full to partial sunlight. While American Hazelnut can tolerate some shade, it will produce more nuts in sunnier locations.
American Hazelnut prefers well-drained, loamy soil but can tolerate a variety of soil types, including sandy and clay soils. However, it does best in soil with good organic matter content.
Before planting, amend the soil with organic matter such as compost or aged manure to improve its fertility and structure.
Planting the Shrubs:
Plant American Hazelnut shrubs in the early spring or late fall when they are dormant.
Dig a hole that is slightly wider and deeper than the root ball of the plant.
Gently remove the shrub from its container or loosen the roots if it's a bare-root plant.
Place the shrub in the center of the hole, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil.
Backfill the hole with soil, firming it gently around the roots to remove air pockets.
Water the shrub thoroughly after planting to settle the soil around the roots.
Space American Hazelnut shrubs about 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 meters) apart to allow room for growth and airflow between plants.
Mulching and Watering:
Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, around the base of the shrub to help retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and moderate soil temperature.
Water the shrubs regularly, especially during dry periods, to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Once established, American Hazelnut is somewhat drought-tolerant but will benefit from regular watering, particularly during hot, dry weather.
Pruning and Maintenance:
American Hazelnut typically requires minimal pruning. You can prune the shrub in late winter or early spring to remove any dead, damaged, or crossing branches and to maintain a tidy shape.
Fertilization is generally not necessary, as American Hazelnut is adapted to grow in nutrient-poor soils. However, if the plant shows signs of nutrient deficiency, you can apply a balanced fertilizer in the spring.
American Hazelnut shrubs typically begin producing nuts within 3 to 5 years after planting. The nuts mature in late summer to early fall and can be harvested once they start to fall to the ground.
Collect the nuts by hand, removing the husks, and store them in a cool, dry place for later use. The nuts can be eaten raw or roasted and used in various culinary applications.
By following these planting instructions and providing proper care, you can successfully grow American Hazelnut shrubs and enjoy their attractive foliage, early spring flowers, and delicious nuts in your landscape.