Plant of the Month March - Purple Hazel


Plant of the Month March - Purple Hazel

01Mar 2020

This month we would like to present a rather different blossom – the hazel blossom. Its long catkins are extremely decorative and it makes a welcome change from the more commonly seen early-blossoming plants.



The purple hazel or purple-leaved filbert (Corylus maxima 'Purpurea') is an upright-growing shrub that can reach a maximum height of 3-4 m. As it matures, the outer branches tend to drop, giving the bush an expansive umbrella. If you find the breadth of its growth too much, at around 3 m, the purple hazel will tolerate being cut back without an issue. In fact, if you cut it back quite radically, this will help to promote the bushy appearance of the hazel and encourage it to produce lots of new leaves.





From March to April, the purple hazel bears long, crimson-coloured catkins. These look especially decorative set in front of a green hedge or together with bushes with yellow flowers. The plant doesn’t produce new leaves until after it has blossomed, and these are a vibrant shade of red. The large, rounded leaves then turn darker, finally becoming a deep shade of dark red, and they keep this colour throughout the summer. The hazel is a wind-pollinated plant, so you will need at least two of them if you want to be able to harvest their delicious little nuts. However, as the wind carries the pollen for very long distances (to the great regret of those who suffer from allergies), it is not absolutely necessary to have a second bush in your garden. If you want to be absolutely certain, you could also consider planting Corylus avellana as a pollinator.  



Corylus 'Purpurea' prefers a sunny position because it can only form sufficient pigment to maintain the deep colour of its leaves if it has sufficient sunshine. If it is kept in a location that is too shady, the leaves will remain green. Hazels are not particularly fussy when it comes to soil. They are very undemanding and will do well on dry or damp soils that are rich in nutrients.