The twisted hazel tree (Corylus avellana 'Contorta'), also known as Harry Lauder's walking stick, is a variety of European hazel. It is a deciduous shrub that bears contorted, twisted branches, most evident in the winter when the leaves have fallen. The branches make interesting additions to fresh or dried floral arrangements. Twisted hazel offers additional ornamental interest with delightful catkins and then yellow blooms in late winter or early spring. The twisted hazel grows to 8 feet tall and wide and is easy to care for when grown within its U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones, 4 through 8.
Give the twisted hazel tree partial shade.
Water the young twisted hazel tree to keep the soil moist at all times. After the tree's second year, allow the soil to dry out between each irrigation.
Fertilize the twisted hazel in March and June with a 10-10-10 formula, at the rate suggested on the bag for the age and size of your shrub. Apply the fertilizer to the soil at the drip-line, and water it in to a depth of 6 inches.
Cut all suckers as soon as they appear. Suckers are immature sprouts that appear at the base of the shrub. They grow straight, as opposed to the contorted growth of the twisted hazel. Cut the suckers all the way to the soil. Other than this, the twisted hazel requires no pruning.
Check the shrub for signs of insect infestations. Japanese beetles love the twisted hazel and quickly defoliate the shrub. Japanese beetles are metallic green with brown wings, and are found munching on the shrub early in the morning. If you notice these pests, pick them off by hand and drop them into a 4 qt. bucket filled with water and 2 tbsp. of dish detergent.
Check the shrub in the winter for signs of Eastern filbert blight, a deadly and widespread fungal disease. By the time you notice the symptoms, the shrub has been infected for a year or longer. The first symptoms include bumps along the stems. A group of these is known as a canker and will increase over several seasons. Cut off infected twigs and cut infected branches 2 feet below the canker. Remove the materials from the garden and destroy them.