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Past Articles Library | Trees | How to Grow and Care for Hazelnuts

When one thinks about nuts, the common ones come to mind.  This includes walnut, pecan, and almond but hazelnuts are one of the easiest nuts to grow.  Below are the directions from taking the hazelnut from seed (nut) to tree or from seedling to grown tree.

Starting Hazelnuts from Seeds (Nuts)

If you know about a hazelnut in your area then you can start your own hazelnut tree.  While you can purchase these nuts in the shell from the store, I would not try to grow your tree from this nut.  The reason is the nut at the store is dry and will take a long time to germinate, if at all.

In doing so, the best approach is to harvest your “seeds” yourself but…………..the harvest time is also very important.  The best time to harvest the seeds or nuts is in the late summer to early fall.  Do not just put them in a bag and wait to plant them.  You will need to place them in a glass jar with a lid.  Once the jar is full, put the lid on and store in the refrigerator until late fall.

Preparing the Seeds

Hazelnuts need a period of cold to germinate.  They also need a treatment that will make their shells softer, which will aid the germinating seed.  The first step in this process is to soak them in a solution of gibblerellic acid or GA-3.  The recipe for this solution is 10 milligrams of GA-3 to one cup of water.  Sit the solution aside for 24 hours.  This will give the GA-3 time to dissolve in the water.

The next day, put your seeds in this solution and soak for two to four days.  After the soaking period has passed, the next step is to remove any seeds that are not viable.  How can you tell which seeds are viable?  Well, the easiest way is to look at the top of your cup.  If you have any seeds that are floating on the top, remove these.  Believe it or not, these are the seeds that are not viable or will not grow.

While you may think you are done with your seed preparation, you would be mistaken.  There is one more step you need to follow before you plant the seed(s). 

This second step is where the exposure of cold comes from.  Yes, you could just put your seeds outside but you can just as easy mimic that environment with your refrigerator.  But do not just put the seeds in the fridge.  A little extra work is involved before you can store them in the refrigerator.

To begin this process, one will need to gather a few supplies.  This includes a resealable plastic bag, peat moss, and sand.  In a bowl, mix equal parts of peat moss and sand.  Add water until evenly moist.  Next, place the “planting medium” in the resealable plastic bag.  Remove the seeds from the water solution described previously and put inside the resealable plastic bag.  Move the seeds around in the bag until they find the bottom.  Once that is done, push the air out, seal up the plastic bag, and place the bag in the refrigerator.  The seeds will need to remain in the refrigerator for three months.

Planting the Seeds

Prior to planting your seeds, you will first prepare for that day.  While you could skip this step, you are risking exposing your seeds to plant disease.  In doing so, it is a good idea to prepare verses rushing into planting. 

The preparation process that I am talking about is cleaning and sterilizing your containers, which takes minimal time.  As far as the container goes, you can use plastic or terra cotta but make sure that it has a drainage hole and is at least eight inches deep.  Once you have your pots, take a dish pan or bucket and fill it with water that has one capful of bleach mixed in it.  Next, put your pots in the water and scrub.  After they are clean, rinse in clear water and allow to sit out and dry.  If you can, sit the pots in the sun to dry.  This will help the containers dry quicker and will aid in sterilization. 

While your pots are drying, the next step is to remove the seeds from the refrigerator and place in an area that is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Keep the seeds in this environment for five days before moving on.

Once the five day period has passed, the next step is to go through your seeds.   What you are looking for are seeds that have signs of germination.  This can be cracked shells to roots appearing.  Dispose of the ones that appear to have no life.  After the seeds have been gone through, the next step is to prepare the pot(s) for planting.  To do this, place a piece of broken potshard in the bottom of each pot.  When doing this, make sure that all the drainage holes are covered with a potshard.  Next, fill each container with a good, all-purpose potting soil but do not fill all the way to the top.  Your goal in this step is to fill it up to the lip of the pot.  Repeat this process for each container you have.

The next step is to plant your hazelnut seeds at a depth of one inch.  Once all the seeds are planted, water them in and place them on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights.  Continue to water the containers so that the soil stays moist but not wet.  The seeds at this stage will stay in these containers until the sapling(s) is 10-inches in height.

Planting your Hazelnut Saplings

Once the saplings have reached 10-inches, it is time to move them to the garden.  The best place for your hazelnut trees is a sunny location but you also need space.  Hazelnut trees need 10 to 15 feet of space between trees.  You will also need at least two trees for pollination. 

After you have found the best area, you will need to dig the hole.  How deep and wide does the hole need to be?  Well, it should only be as deep as the container the sapling came out of and should be twice to three times the width.  Once the hole has been dug, do not simply put the tree in the ground.  To allow the roots of the tree to move outward, you will need to deglaze the side of the hole.  This is done by taking a garden rake and raking the inside of the hole.  At this point, remove the sapling from its container, place in the hole and fill in.  Water the tree in well and keep the ground moist for several months.  After that, the tree will be drought tolerant.

Care of your Hazelnut Tree

Once you get through the first year, maintaining your hazelnut trees is pretty easy.  The only thing you really need to do is remove any suckers that may appear around the trunk.

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