How to plant and care for corkscrew hazel trees

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Corkscrew hazels are large bushes or small trees that have the botanical name of Corylus avellana "Contorta," but are also commonly called Harry Lauder's walking stick. The plant gets its name because the trunk and stems are contorted in spiralled corkscrew shapes.

While the shape is not that visible in the summer when covered in foliage, the bare stems are a garden highlight in the winter. After the initial planting, corkscrew hazels require minimal care.

Wait until the spring and identify a planting location that has moist soil and loam. If loam soil is not available, the corkscrew hazel will thrive in any soil as long as it is moist. There should be full to partial sun exposure in the location.

Dig a hole that is the same depth as the root ball of the corkscrew hazel and two to three times as wide. Place the corkscrew hazel roots into the centre of the hole and then backfill it completely.

Water the soil to the same depth as the root system, typically at least 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 inches). After planting, water as needed to keep the soil constantly moist but never soggy.

Wait until the beginning of April and apply a granular fertiliser designed for holly bushes at half the rate specified on the instructions. Repeat the application in May, July, August and October. In the second year of growth, use the same schedule but apply the fertiliser at the full dosage amounts.

Prune all of the corkscrew hazel limbs back by half in the late winter or early spring, using loppers for thinner branches and a pruning saw for thicker branches. Then look at the base of the trunk for small twigs called suckers. Prune off all of the suckers using hand pruners to maintain the tree form instead of a bush form.