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How to Prune a Harry Lauder's Walking Stick Tree

Henry Lauder’s walking stick tree is a colloquial name for the upright growing species Corylus avellana "Contorta," also commonly called contorted European filbert. It is a flowering and fruiting deciduous shrub with gnarled and twisted branches that reach 12 feet in spread and 10 feet in height at maturity. The shrub provides year-round interest and is planted as a specimen ornamental or in multiples as sculptural hedging. Pruning requirements are minimal as its wild growth form is part of its charm. When warranted, the shrub can withstand pruning for size and shape.

Step 1

Prune your Lauder's walking stick tree in the the early spring, after all the fruits have been cleared off by animals for winter forage but before new growth is visible.

Step 2

Cut any broken, cracked, clearly diseased or clearly dead limbs or branches back to a point of healthy wood. Place cuts just beyond a healthy lateral branch or leaf node.

Step 3

Prune away any sucker growth that emerges from the lower trunk or root zone as this is not productive growth; it grows without the contorted branch form and saps energy from the productive shrub growth. Sever any of these that you find throughout the year, at or just below the soil line.

Step 4

Thin out or reduce the length of healthy branches and limbs, only as you desire, to shape the shrub to suit your landscape or aesthetic preferences. Place all cuts just beyond a healthy lateral branch or leaf node to encourage branching and growth at the cut site. Never remove more than a third of the healthy shrub volume in any year to prevent stress and shock.

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