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The hazelnut, also known as common hazel, hazel bush or just hazel, can be found in almost every garden, whether as a tree or shrub. It is one of the most undemanding plants of all. However, in order for it to develop many nuts and for them to ripen, both the outer shoots and those inside should always be well exposed to the sun. To ensure this, this wood should be subjected to regular pruning measures.

tree or shrub

When it comes to hazelnuts, people usually talk about the hazelnut bush. But there are also hazelnut trees. Both can vary greatly in height and width. Among the native trees, this is one of the most valuable, because it not only produces healthy fruit, but also offers numerous insects, birds and small mammals a sheltered home. In most cases, however, hazelnut bushes are cultivated.

This is partly because trees are more difficult to grow and partly because shrubs are much easier to harvest. In addition, this plant has the property of constantly developing new shoots at the base of the trunk, which gives it its shrub-like character. No matter which growth form you ultimately choose, both require regular pruning if a regular, bountiful and recurring harvest is desired.

Tip: A large shrub can grow up to 6 m high and about as wide. A tree, on the other hand, can grow to a height of up to 10 m.

time for cut

Best time to cut

If it is not primarily about harvesting nuts, the tree or shrub does not necessarily have to be pruned. However, these trees can then reach a considerable size within a few years and get out of hand in their growth. If you want to harvest and keep the plant in shape, you cannot avoid pruning.

  • choose the right time for pruning measures
  • Hazelnuts are already in full bloom in March
  • therefore a pruning in the spring does not make sense
  • Spring pruning resulted in significantly fewer flowers and hardly any nuts
  • Pruning recommended between October and March when there is no vegetation
  • now the hazelnut is leafless and the wood is dry
  • View inside the plant is no longer obstructed
  • what needs to be cut away becomes visible
  • There is no danger of the plant bleeding to death

Tip: Even if a pruning is done at regular intervals, it is usually sufficient to only do it about every 2-3 years. If it is a hazelnut hedge, it must not be trimmed from March to September to protect breeding birds.

cut shrub

Cut hazelnut bush

The hazelnut is considered the oldest type of fruit and its fruits are real sources of energy. Uncut shrubs quickly become denser due to the typical wild growth and their enormous willingness to grow, so that over the years less and less light gets inside and the plant hardly puts nuts there. Yields steadily decrease over the course of a few years. Cutting the hazelnut bush is relatively uncomplicated. This plant forgives mistakes when pruning without any problems and sprout again reliably and quickly even after a radical cut. Depending on what is to be achieved with the cut, a distinction is made between shape, thinning, rejuvenation and maintenance cuts.


With a topiary on the hazel bush, you can prevent excessive expansion and keep the growth compact. With this cut, care must be taken to preserve the shrub character and not to make a hedge out of it. To do this, you can shorten some selected shoot ends by approx. 15 cm. For larger specimens, it can easily be between 30 and 50 cm.

thinning cut

  • Thinning cut should prevent complete overgrowth
  • it should be done regularly from the fourth year
  • first remove dead, over-aged, too dense, crossing shoots
  • also cut out branches growing into the bush
  • Shorten overly long shoots on the hazel bush to the length of the remaining ones
  • leave a maximum of 6 - 8 rods
  • only the strongest rods should remain
  • Cut off all other shoots close to the ground

In this way, the shrub remains translucent and loose and can develop new young shoots at the base. Thin and far from the center of the bush, which are still green and soft, should preferably be plucked out in summer. It is important to ensure that shoots or branches are cut off as far down as possible. This applies in particular to the wild shoots that are just growing.


A rejuvenation pruning is especially recommended for older shrubs that have never or hardly ever been pruned. It is intended to prevent the plant from aging or growing too tall. With this pruning, the inside of the bush has to be worked on in particular. The rejuvenation cut can be spread over three years or the bush is placed on the stick.

In order to gradually rejuvenate the hazel bush, cut back about a third of all shoots to about 40-50 cm above the ground in the first year. In the second year you repeat the whole thing with half of the remaining branches and in the third year you do the same with the remaining shoots that have not yet been pruned. Ideally, you cut just above an outward-facing bud and always make the cut at a slight angle. After the third cut, the hazelnut is completely rejuvenated.

Tip: "Put on the stick" means a radical pruning, which is often used for hedges and in which the hazelnut bush is completely sawn off about 20 cm above the ground. The hazelnut then sprout again from the sleeping eyes on the remaining stubs.

maintenance cut

Maintenance pruning serves to maintain the vitality and willingness to flower of this tree and to give the young shoots space to develop. Every one to three years you cut off old, dead, weak or too dense as well as crossing and inward-growing shoots directly at the base. In addition, some selected, thicker shoots are shortened by about half. These shoots should be distributed over the entire shrub if possible.

cut tree

Cut hazel tree

In rare cases, the hazelnut also grows as a small tree, with its crown taking on an umbrella-like shape over the years. Even a hazelnut tree can grow very luxuriantly and expansively in a comparatively short time, which makes regular pruning useful.

  • with this cut, remove shoots on the trunk and especially near the ground
  • Always remove shoots as low or as close to the ground as possible
  • to limit the height of the tree, react early
  • to do this, cut off about a third of the shoots directly at the base every year
  • to rejuvenate an older tree, proceed in a similar way to a large shrub
  • Spread the rejuvenation cut over three years
  • cut a third of the branches down to a length of up to 40 cm

After these three years, the hazelnut tree is rejuvenated. If you want to keep the natural growth habit, you should only cut out all dry and dead branches from the crown so that enough sunlight can get inside the crown again.

Tip: For pruning measures on the hazelnut tree, an overcast and frost-free day should always be chosen, regardless of whether a tree or shrub is to be pruned.

corkscrew hazel

Special case corkscrew hazel

The corkscrew hazelnut is a specialty among the hazelnut trees. It impresses with its bizarre growth, especially during the leafless time in winter. It owes its name to the twisted, corkscrew-like shoots. This hazel also bears fruit, but significantly fewer and smaller than a conventional hazel. This extremely decorative hazelnut needs one or two prunings in order not to become overgrown.

Remove wild shoots regularly

The corkscrew hazelnut also forms numerous wild shoots. They are easy to recognize because they shoot out of the ground straight and taut and disturb the overall picture. They grow much faster than the other shoots. They should be removed right at the rootstock. It is best to rip them out with a courageous jerk. If you cut them off, they are not completely removed. You don't have to wait until winter to do this, the wild shoots can and should be pulled out again and again during the year.

Tip: It is important to remove the wild shoots directly at the source, i.e. at the rootstock, because even the smallest remnant of tissue left on such a shoot means that it continues to grow unabated.

Shape and taper corkscrew hazel

In order to promote good branching and compact growth and to prevent balding from the inside out, a corresponding topiary is also recommended for this type of hazelnut. You can shorten overly long branches by up to two thirds. You cut a few millimeters above an outward-facing leaf bud. In addition, all branches growing steeply upwards and inwards, as well as crossing and rubbing against each other, are removed. In addition, you cut out dead branches and those of stunted growth.

With a rejuvenation it should be achieved that the degree of woodiness is not too strong, because the less pronounced this is, the more prominently the branches and twigs of the corkscrew hazel can twist. To counteract excessive lignification, cut about 2 - 4 of the oldest and strongest shoots to about 15 cm. This wood gains new vitality and quickly sprout again from the old wood.

hazelnut hedge

A hazelnut hedge should be trimmed regularly, especially in the first few years. Otherwise the plants can become bare from below and only partially fulfill their function as a privacy screen. Later on, she should be given a makeover pruning about every five years.

  • remove the strongest shoots of the hazelnut hedge close to the ground
  • this promotes the growth of young shoots
  • When cutting, do not injure the bark of the young shoots
  • Then treat larger cuts with a wound sealant
  • Depending on the condition of the hedge, you may also "put it on the stick"
  • to do this, cut back to a height of approx. 20 cm
  • cutting should be completed by March at the latest

Tip: Basically, when trimming hedges, the nesting times of the birds must be taken into account. In this regard, heavier cuts are prohibited by law in the period from March 1st to September 30th.

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