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Filbert, also called hazelnut, is a fantastic shrub for the back of a border because of its easy-growing nature and tolerance of partial shade. One of the few woody plants in and around prairies, hazelnut spreads slowly to form colonies while providing habitat and food for wildlife. In the spring, filberts produce clusters of bright yellow catkins, making this easy-care plant a great companion for spring-flowering bulbs. By fall, the large round leaves turn yellow or orange before dropping, revealing the shrub’s beautiful branching habit.
Loved for its twisted and contorted branch form, Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick is the most popular landscape form of filbert planted today. It sports curling, twisting branches that can be pruned for use in crafts and flower arrangements.
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Using Filbert in the Landscape
Combine filbert with native shrubs and trees to create a wildlife-friendly border or screen. Great companions include sumac (Rhus spp.), beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.), willow (Salix spp.), and dogwood (Cornus spp.). When cultivated together, these easy-to-grow woody plants create a palette of color and texture that lends interest year-round. Spread a 3- to 4-inch-thick layer of bark mulch around plants to create a large, nearly maintenance-free planting bed.
Caring for Filbert
Filbert is easy to grow in average, well-drained soil and full sun to part shade. As a woodland native, it tolerates part shade well—particularly morning sun followed by afternoon shade. Plant filbert in spring, and water plants weekly for the first two months after planting. Continue watering during long dry periods during the first growing season. Plants rarely need supplemental water after the first growing season.
Keep an eye out for vigorous stems (called suckers) extending from the roots of Harry Lauder's Walking Stick. When suckers rise from the root, they're straight as a, well, stick—instead of being twisted and contorted like the more desirable top growth. Prune the straight stems away as soon as they are noticed to maintain the look of unique twisted stems.
Harry Lauder's Walking Stick grows well in containers. Plant it in a large container filled with quality potting mix. Place plants in part shade or full sun and water regularly. Move to a protected location if needed in winter.