Hazel or Filbert

By The Old House Web

Hazel or Filbert

The European hazel is known botanically as Corylus avellana and the American hazel is Corylus americana. The European hazel is hardy in southern Michigan only but the American is hardy in all of Michigan. The new growth may not become sufficiently hardy in the fall to withstand the first cold weather. Crops are also reduced if the male flowers are killed by spring frost or if blue jays steal the nuts. Hazels can be grown in hedges so they may have some landscape use as well.

Two or more varieties must be planted to insure cross pollination or the plants will not set fruit.

Plant bare root trees in the spring. Dig a hole large enough to hold the entire root system spread out in a natural manner. Do not allow the roots to dry out during planting. Do not fertilize the first year after planting but do apply a thick mulch of hay or straw. Water each time the soil is dry through the first summer but gradually reduce watering in late August and September.


Young plants are given 1 1/2 pounds of 12-12-12 or an equivalent fertilizer. The rate is increased by 1 1/2 pounds each year until 1 to 2 pounds of actual nitrogen is being applied per 1000 square feet.

Mature hazels need about 1 to 2 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1000 square feet per year. This can be supplied by applying a lawn fertilizer or a garden fertilizer such as 12-12-12. An alternative method is to apply 5 to 9 pounds of 12-12-12 or an equivalent fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter. Check to make sure the recommended rate of of 1 to 2 pounds of actual nitrogen is being applied.


Head back branches that are too long and prune off lower branches to aid lawn mowing. Stems that form a sharp angle with the main stem should be removed as soon as possible. The tight V crotch formed by such branches is weak and susceptible to splitting.

Rodent Control

Young trees are injured by the feeding of rodents. Rodent guards can be purchased from nurseries or mail order nurseries. Rodent guards may be made from quarter inch mesh hardware cloth. The guard must extend high enough up the tree so rodents can't stand on the snow cover and feed on the trunk. Such protection should only be needed for 5 to 7 years.

Harvesting and Storing

Hazels are harvested after they fall from the plant. Store dried nuts in a cool place, preferably an unheated outbuilding or garage. The nuts become rancid if kept at room temperature. The nuts can be cracked and frozen for long term storage. Two and a half pounds of unshelled nuts gives about a pound of nutmeats, or about 3 1/2 cups.

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