How to Prune Hazel Alder


Hazel alder is also known as smooth alder or tag alder. It has a short life span and usually grows up to 20 feet tall. It thrives in marshy, swampy areas from Texas up to Maine and prefers full sun. The leaves have a leather-like texture and the bark is smooth. Reddish green flowers grow in early spring and cone-like fruit is present through the dormant winter season. Prune hazel alder in the winter to improve the shrub's health and shape.

Step 1

Cut thin branches with pruning shears and thick branches with a pruning saw. The goal is to make clean, non-ragged cuts to avoid bark damage.

Step 2

Remove dead, diseased or damaged branches any time of year. Place the cut where the unwanted wood meets healthy branches.

Step 3

Snip off small shoots that grow from the base of the hazel alder tree trunk. These grow very fast and will steal nutrients and sunlight from the rest of the tree. Cut them off at their joint.

Step 4

Cut branches that cross or rub against each other. These clog the center of the tree and prevent sunlight from getting to the lower branches. Use the shears or saw to cut them at their collar, which is the thick section of bark at the base of the branch.

Step 5

Look through the hazel alder's foliage. If you can't see light shine through, remove some of the larger, older branches in the center of the bush. Sunlight and air need to circulate to provide nutrients and lessen the likelihood of an infestation. Prune branches at their base.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid spreading disease through the hazel alder by sanitizing pruning equipment between cuts. Use rubbing alcohol to clean them.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Pruning shears
  • Pruning saw


  • USDA: Plants Profile
  • Purdue: New Crop
  • Forest Resources Extension: Pruning Evergreen Branches

Who Can Help

  • University of Idaho Extension: About Pruning and Sanitizing
Keywords: hazel alder, prune hazel alder, cut branches

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than ten years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business-related topics. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Marist College.