The American hazelnut tree, also called the Filbert tree, is native to North America. The tree produces edible nuts beginning in the fourth or fifth year. It is a fast-growing species with a lifespan of 15 to 20 years and an average height at maturity of 10 to 15 feet. American hazelnut trees are extremely popular with wildlife enthusiasts as the trees attract a variety of game and provide shelter to many species of birds and other wildlife.
Start your hazelnut tree by seed in late summer. Purchase seeds or collect nuts from existing trees. To determine if your collected seeds are viable, place them in water. If the seeds float, it means they are capable of producing a new plant. Plant rooted suckers during late autumn or early spring after treating with rooting hormone.
Select a location for your hazelnut tree with well-drained soil and a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. American hazelnut is tolerant to alkali and salty soils, but the trees thrive in a neutral-acidic location. Your planting location should be sunny although partial shade is generally adequate. Hazelnut trees are susceptible to wind damage, so choose a sheltered location if you live in a windy region.
Dig a hole 4 to 6 inches deep, and prepare the soil by mixing in compost to ensure adequate moisture retention. Add only enough water to moisten the compost and soil. Soak the roots of your plant for approximately an hour before planting to increase the likelihood of establishment and survival.
Plant multiple hazelnut trees within 25 feet of each other to allow for pollination and fruiting. Finish with a thick layer of mulch to increase water retention and repel weeds.
Water new plants frequently to encourage root system growth and spreading. Continue to water frequently for the first two years. Beginning in the third year, rainwater will provide sufficient moisture in most regions.
Fertilize after planting with a 10-10-10 fertilizer. Once new growth is established, fertilize again with approximately 1 lb. of fertilizer, making certain to cover the entire area around the base of the tree. Unless growth is stunted or you notice signs of starvation in your tree, start fertilizing annually from the second year forward.
Prune your American hazelnut to prevent an excessive number of suckers. The ideal time to prune is during the winter months when the tree goes dormant. Remove damaged and diseased branches each year, and thin your tree annually to allow for sunlight penetration into deeper layers of the tree.