The contorted filbert tree (Corylus avellana) is a very rare and unique shrub that is popularly known as 'Harry Lauder's Walking Stick'. It is also sometimes referred to as corkscrew filbert and contorted hazelnut. This deciduous tree grows from early to late spring and is unique due to the way it contorts and reaches out to form twisted branches and a thick foliage. Many times, there is a need to place sticks near the tree so that they act as a support for the twisted branches. It has a thick trunk and pale yellow to brownish flowers that branch out in clusters - these are known as catkins. The tree grows to a height of 15 feet and 15 feet in width. It looks strikingly different from any other flowering plant and is one of those plants that can adorn a garden and completely transform its landscape. Planting and caring for this tree is quite easy once one knows all the steps involved. Let us understand what these are in the following section.
Step 1 - Temperature and Soil Conditions<
Plant this tree in conditions of soil that are well-drained, have a mix of sand and clay and get balanced amounts of both - sun and shade. The pH range of the soil should be maintained between 6.5-8.5.
Allow the tree to get a good 3-6 hours of direct sunlight (which is usually found on the southern and western sides of buildings). However, it is important to know the kind of plant that you have. While some plants don't bloom well if they are not given all those hours of sun, others may require only 3 hours of sunlight.
Step 2 - Planting
- Start off by digging a hole in the ground that is 3-4 diameters wider than the root of the tree and make it as deep as the container in which the plant was placed.
- If you're transferring the tree from a container, make sure that you do this carefully and do not harm or break the root in any way. One way of ensuring this is to place the container on the side and slowly slide out the plant by keeping it parallel to the ground, instead of pulling it out vertically.
- Place the plant in the center of the dug out hole and place the best side of the root facing forward.
- Once the plant is in, fill the hole up. Make sure that you do not add foreign soil to it. It isn't good for the plant. Try and maintain the same soil that was dug out.
- Next, create a water ring around the outer portion of the hole. Do this by forming a mound around the outer portion of the plant that is about a foot in height. This encourages new shoots to grow outwards and allows the water to reach the roots directly.
- Add 3 inches of mulch above the ring. This is important so that the water and moisture can be conserved. Use compost or pine straw for making the mulch.
Step 3 - Watering
It is essential to keep the soil moist through the first year of planting the tree. After the first year, water the tree whenever the ground seems dry. The water level should be maintained at 8-10 inches. It is preferable to water deeply once a week than to water a small amount everyday. This ensures that the roots become deep and strong and are capable of surviving a dry spell, if ever there should be one.
Step 4 - Fertilizing
Fertilizing a contorted filbert tree is essential for its extended life. Fertilizing can be carried out once every few years. Before fertilizing the soil, it is essential that you test the soil to make a check on the nutrients present. If there are hardly a few nutrients absent then choose a specific fertilizer instead of an all-purpose fertilizer. This will be much more beneficial to the soil. Do not fertilize late into the growing season because this can have an adverse effect on the plant.
Step 5 - Pruning
Pruning should be done before spring when the branches begin to grow. In the fall, survey the tree and check for the bottom. If you find any twigs growing, cut them off as close to the trunk as possible. Do the same with the twigs that grow on the ground as well. This is done so that they don't go and spread onto the ground or begin to grow in the upward direction again. Other than that, there is a need to control the growth of the tree and give it a tree-like shape rather than a haphazard growing network of twisted branches. This is done by cutting each stem to one-third of its total length - the added advantage of which is that it prevents the branches from curling into each other and harming the bark. It also creates more sunlight for the interior branches. Other than that, cut off any new branches that start off at the stem joint and rub the spot where they grew from so that they do not reemerge. Make sure that you do not leave any spot oozing and raw - this will attract insects and can lead to infestations and diseases in the tree.
Step 6 - Prevention of Diseases and Infestations
It is very important to keep the tree disease-free for its longevity. To make sure that this happens, certain factors have to be kept in mind.
- Choose varieties that are disease-resistant and can thus protect themselves from all the infestations.
- It is essential to clean up all the debris that collects under and around the tree such that no insects can thrive on it.
- Always water the trees during the day and around the roots, instead of the top so that the water dries during the day and the area does not remain moist.
- When planting the trees, ensure that there is enough space between two trees, this will prevent the branches from tangling with each other, which may lead to all these other problems.
- Applying special fungicides is essential to prevent problems like insect infestations, rust, and blight.