The hazelnut tree (Corylus avellana) is one of the most undemanding plants in Central Europe. However, its willingness to grow pushes many a garden owner to the limit. With the right instructions, pruning the hazel is uncomplicated at the optimal time.

Utensils needed

Proper pruning tools are required to prune a hazelnut tree. It depends on the size of the tree and the thickness of the branches. It is important that it is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before use so that no pathogens or pests are transmitted. The following tool offers a selection for every need:

  • Secateurs for low-lying thin branches or shoot tips
  • Pruning shears for thicker branches
  • Telescopic pruning shears or cutting giraffe for high cutting areas
  • Tree/wood saw as an alternative

Best time

The best time to prune hazelnut trees depends on the type of pruning. Basically, this is between October and March. The root cut is an exception. Precise data can be found in the descriptions of the types of cut below.

types of cuts

Is the hazelnut tree growing too tall, is it old, is it a young plant or is it no longer flowering profusely? For every “problem” there is the right type of cut.

root cutting

The root cut is necessary in two situations: when a hazelnut tree is replanted and when it becomes too large as a shrub in the bucket or should be kept small.


When replanting, cutting the roots is advisable because this stimulates the roots to grow and they settle better/faster in the soil. This in turn promotes resilience. If part of the shoots is also shortened, the risk of diseases is reduced and water evaporation decreases. The following information should be considered:

  • best time: between spring and summer during growing season
  • Shorten shoots by a third
  • cut off kinked roots
  • Cut off dried and damaged root parts

Root pruning for tub plants:

A hazelnut tree is fast-growing. Without pruning the roots, it regularly causes buckets to break/burst. To prevent this and keep it at a desired height, root pruning is the most effective method. This is how it’s done:

  • best pruning time: between October and the end of February
  • expose roots
  • Cut between a third and a half
  • at the same time make rejuvenation cuts on shoots (see instructions under cut types “Rejuvenation cut”)
  • should be repeated every two to three years
Tip: Although a hazelnut tree can also be cultivated in a bucket, shrubs and a corkscrew hazel can be kept in the bucket with less effort because they reach lower growth heights, are better kept smaller and usually grow more slowly.

plant growth pruning

The growth pruning is used for a young hazelnut tree. It is considered the most important among the types of cuts. This promotes natural growth and strengthens the development of young plants so that they grow into magnificent, healthy adult plants. If there is no build-up cut, measly growth and an unsightly appearance are not uncommon. Home gardeners should know the following:

  • Best time to cut: Spring just before or right at the start of the growing season
  • Period: between two and four years of age, depending on the stage of development (up to six years are considered “juvenile”)
  • Shorten the middle main shoot only slightly, cut down the shoots around it in a ball shape (usually done by the tree nursery)
  • Section off base shoots – leave two to three
  • ideal when between ten and twelve new trunks have formed evenly distributed

taper cut

This type of pruning is usually used on older hazelnut trees and bushes. Especially those that have not been cut for years, a rejuvenation cut is the first choice among the types of cuts. If an aging specimen is no longer growing splendidly or a younger one has been weakened by disease or pests, for example, the rejuvenation cut ensures vitality, stimulates flowering and promotes dense growth. This type of pruning requires a different approach over a period of three years:

  • Best cutting time: between October and March (choose a frost-free and dry day)
  • first cut back a third of all shoots to 40 centimeters (be sure to leave some buds)
  • Place incision above outward facing eyes (for spherical growth)
  • in the following year cut a third of the hitherto unabridged shoots
  • shorten remaining uncut shoots in the last year
  • From the fourth year, if necessary, topiary can be done
Tip: At the same time as the tapering cut, it makes sense to make a thinning cut inside the branches. This also promotes growth and saves further effort at a later date.


The clearing cut is about bringing “order” to the branches. This is to prevent or eliminate bare skin and allow light and air to get inside.


  • best editing time: between the beginning and end of February – smaller editing projects also up to March
  • Cut off dry, old and dead twigs as well as densely overgrown twigs inside
  • For hazelnut bushes close to the ground, cut off as many older shoots as there are new ones
  • cut off root shoots at the trunk of stout hazelnut trees
  • Remove shoots that grow vertically from the trunk
  • cut too many side shoots on the trunk (one per side is sufficient)
  • cut off a shoot in case of crossed growth
  • — Frequency of a thinning cut: in case of internal bare growth or every three years


If the hazelnut tree or bush is too bulky for you, corrections can be made with topiary. This type of cut is not absolutely necessary, because thinning and tapering cuts can also be used to at least give an indication of the shape. When cutting to shape, make sure not to cut away too much. The rule here is: it is better to cut more often than to shorten a lot once. Otherwise, please note:

  • Prune hazelnut trees between October and February
  • Repeat cuts: every two to three years is sufficient

Pruning grafted hazelnut trees

If a grafted hazelnut tree is to be pruned, the grafting points must be identified in advance. These can be recognized by their thickening in the bark. Sometimes “kinks” also form. Regardless of which type of cut is chosen, the cut must always be made above the grafting points.

Cut corkscrew hazel

Among the various hazelnut plants, the corkscrew hazel is also very popular and widespread. It owes its name to the winding shoots. This species is particularly prone to the so-called stick rash, in which straight shoots grow from the root. In addition to robbing the plant of energy, this disrupts the overall appearance of the otherwise conspicuously shaped appearance. As with the classic hazelnut, they must be removed immediately. In addition, a targeted pruning can promote the coiling of the shoots and promote growth. This is achieved by the following procedure:

  • Remove stick rash: all year round
  • Best cutting time: autumn and early spring before budding
  • Cutting rhythm: ideally once a year, otherwise at least every two years
  • Shorten shoots that protrude too far by a maximum of two thirds
  • Cut off the remaining shoots at the tips about five centimeters (stimulates growth)
  • Remove crossing shoots (at least one of them)
  • Cut off inwardly bent shoots below the bend
  • Shorten shoots with growth disorders, reduced foliage and flower formation once strongly

Remove wild shoots

Wild shoots are those that shoot up straight from the root. They are not to be confused with the water shoots that grow out of the trunk. Wild shoots are also known as stick rash. They damage a hazelnut tree because, due to their rapid growth, they deprive it of an enormous amount of energy and thus impede growth. For this reason, they should be removed quickly and regardless of the time. Cutting it off is not suitable, because residues remain on the roots. The optimal method is a jerky rip, hoping that they will completely detach from the root.

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