Corylus americana, commonly referred to as the American hazelnut or American hazel, is a species of flowering shrubs in the Betulaceae family. This lovely shrub is classified as deciduous, a term used to describe species that shed their leaves, flowers, and fruits, usually in autumn. With a wide range of distribution, American hazelnut can be found growing in several regions of central and eastern United States and southern Canada.
American hazelnut is a highly popular ornamental plant in cultivation worldwide. This plant grows happily in native plant gardens, wildlife gardens, and other environments that meet their growing requirements. The best thing about this shrub is that its fruits are edible and play a big part in the surrounding ecosystem.
Like most shrubs, American hazelnut is very easy to grow and care for. It is a plant that grows at a pretty fast pace that will eventually produce a clumpy overall appearance formed from multiple stems.
Get yourself comfortable and keep reading to find out how to help your American hazelnut grow healthy and produce plenty of fruit!
About American Hazelnut
- Their fruits known as nuts have a high nutritional value. They are very attractive to many species of animals, such as squirrels, woodpeckers, deer, pheasants, foxes, turkeys, and others.
- The nuts have a sweet flavor and were used by Native Americans in several recipes of soups. They can be consumed raw or ground into flour to obtain a cake-like bread.
- Usually, their tasty nuts are born annually in two or three years after planting. When mature, they are very easy to crack open and drop free of the husk.
- In the past, American Indians valued Corylus americana plants for their medicinal properties. They were used to prepare emollients, tinctures, or essential oils.
- Other parts of American hazelnut like leaves, catkins, or twigs are often eaten by rabbits, moose, and deer. The dense and low growth provides nesting sites and covers for many wildlife species.
- When first planting American hazelnuts, you need to soak their roots in water for an hour or so to increase their survival chances. They can tolerate acidic to alkaline soils.
- To maintain your American hazelnut a certain size or shape, you can prune it regularly from winter to summer. This will ensure vigorous growth, sporadically blooming, and rich fruit-bearing.
- American hazelnut shrubs make for excellent companions to other species of plants including black cherry, red and black oak, grey dogwood, Solomon’s plume, and strawberry.
American Hazelnut Features: An Overview
- American hazelnuts belong to the hazel (Corylus) genus that contains between 14 and 18 species of deciduous large shrubs and trees.
- They are medium to large shrubs that can grow from 8 to 16 feet (2.5-5 m) in height and have a crown spread of about 10 to 15 feet (3-4.5 m). Under some conditions, they can take the appearance of a small tree.
- These plants produce a multi-stemmed growth composed of long and outward-growing branches. They exhibit a nice-looking dense spreading or spherical shape.
- Their leaves are simple, ovate to heart-shaped, hairy, and tooth-edged. They grow alternately arranged with a green tint in summer turning yellowish in fall.
- American hazelnuts spread by suckers that are sent from underground rhizomes found at 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) below the surface.
- During their blooming period, from early to mid-spring, they come along with buds of both hanging male (staminate) catkins and female (pistillate) flowers. They are generally white and also present some shades of pink, yellow, or red.
- The male catkins measure about 1.6 to 3.1 inches (4-8 cm) in length and contain a pair of bracts with four stamens. They develop in autumn and remain over the winter.
- The female bloomings are quite tiny and grow in clusters of 2 to 5 adorable specimens. They are almost entirely enclosed in protective bracts of buds and contain reddish styles at their tips.
- American hazelnuts bear edible fruits called nuts that reach maturity at a time from mid-summer to fall. Each nut is attached to two leaf-like bracts that have irregularly laciniate edges.
Growing American Hazelnut
With their independent and easy-going style, you will not encounter any problems while growing and caring for American hazelnuts. Like most shrubs, these species can thrive even when they are neglected by their owner for a long time. If you want to keep your plants healthy and happy, all you have to do is to pay attention to their particular growing demands. And we guarantee you that everything is easier than you might think!
American hazelnuts grow at their best when they are exposed to full sunlight for at least 4 hours daily. When growing these shrubs outdoors, plant them in a location where they can receive plenty of bright, direct, and unfiltered light all-year-round. If you live in a region with hot or dry climates, it is suggested you provide your plants with some shade in the afternoon. Indoors, place your shrubs in the brightest spot you can find into your house and they will cause no trouble along the way.
When it comes to temperatures, American hazelnuts are more tolerant of cooler conditions than other members of the Corylus genus. These plants can withstand temperatures that drop to 15 °F (-9.4 °C) for long periods. However, exposing your shrubs to temperatures below this value during their blooming period may prevent fruit-bearing and thus cause crop loss.
Pests are probably one of the most annoying experiences for your American hazelnuts. They can be bothered quite often by nut weevils, filbert worms, aphids, tent caterpillars, and other intruders. If you notice any suspect presence, you can remove the pests with your bare hands or you can spray them with a strong stream of water. Treat the infested parts with suitable insecticides and pesticides.
Planting American Hazelnut
American hazelnut shrubs are best planted during their dormancy period, from early to late winter, to prevent shocking them with heat. If you want to grow American hazelnuts from seed, make sure you plant them outdoors or indoors in the autumn. During the winter, the seeds must be protected with a cold frame, a thick layer of mulch, or by keeping them inside or in a greenhouse.
As long as you find the right place to plant your American hazelnuts, you have nothing else to worry about. They can handle any type of well-draining soil, whether is loamy, clay, or sandy. Look for a commercial potting soil that has many nutrients and organic matter, but avoid overly rich substrates because they will cause your shrubs to produce more leaves instead of fruits.
Your American hazelnuts will be very pleased to receive some fertilizer regularly in spring. For optimal growth, feed your shrubs with a well-balanced fertilizer or well-rotted organic matter without touching the bark in the process. Make sure you follow the package instructions to avoid over-fertilizing and damaging the plants.
Due to their fast-growing habit, potted American hazelnuts will require regular repotting once every year. Once your shrubs start to outgrow their current pots, transplant them into other ones that are slightly larger during their dormancy in winter.
Watering American Hazelnut
The secret with American hazelnuts is that they need regular watering only in the first two years after planting until they settle in their new growing environment. When younger, these shrubs will be more than happy if they receive watering about once or twice a week. However, the frequency of watering may vary depending on the climate, light conditions, and humidity.
In a region with frequent rainfalls, American hazelnuts will do well without any extra watering on your part. Still, if you live in a region with hot temperatures, your shrubs will require watering more often until settled in. Once established, American hazelnuts can thrive if they are provided with water only once or twice a month.
Propagating American Hazelnut
If you already think that American hazelnuts are very friendly companions, wait to see how easily you can have more babies around! These shrubs can be propagated through seeds or division and will show immediate results thanks to their fast-growing habit. Now go on and make some experiments on your lovely plants! It can be a fun process and you can also surprise your family and friends with a nice gift.
The seeds are best sown in a pot, cold frame, or any container as soon as they are harvested in the fall. You must plant the seeds in the same potting soil you are using for the mother plant and keep the container in a warm and shaded location. Typically, the germination will occur in 1-6 months after sowing. You will have some cute seedlings ready to be transplanted in the garden or their own pots until late winter or spring.
Division is the fastest method to propagate American hazelnuts, as all you have to do is to cut the roots into 3-6 parts and plant them individually. However, make sure that each division is healthy and contains many branches. You can also cut off some branches and plant them in a well-draining substrate to have more babies for your garden.
American hazelnuts look spectacular and the best thing about them is that they make great companions for any type of gardener and many species of plants. Friendly advice: look for as many recipes as you can find because if you offer your American hazelnut proper growth conditions, it will reward you with plenty of delicious nuts!
Ready to populate your garden with American hazelnut shrubs? Share your experience in the comments below!