Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is a native hedging species that is quite similar to Green Beech, you can spot the difference easily because Hornbeam has more deeply veined leaves with serrated edges (the edge of a Beech leaf is smooth and wavy). The leaves are bright fresh green when they emerge in Spring, becoming a deeper green as they mature later in the season. In Autumn the foliage changes through various shades of yellow before turning brown at the start of Winter.
A Hornbeam hedge will retain its leaves during winter in the same way as both types of Beech, although it can lose a few more leaves especially in windy weather. In winter the Hornbeam leaves are a darker nut-brown colour compared to the coppery brown of Beech.
Hornbeam is a very popular hedging plant, not just because it looks good all year but also because it is so versatile. Hornbeam grows in all soil types, even if it is poorly drained and does not suffer from the late Spring frosts that can damage other hedge species. Hornbeam will grow in full sun and partial shade, this is also a good choice for difficult windy and exposed sites where the plants will thrive while bringing valuable shelter and privacy as they develop.
Hornbeams do not suffer from any notable pests and diseases and so are a very easy hedge to maintain.
Hornbeam can be maintained as a hedge from under 1 metre to over 5 metres, established hedges can be kept in good order with a single trim in late summer. For a very formal and manicured look you could trim twice, this may sound like twice as much work but there will be a significantly smaller volume of clippings to get rid of overall!
Hornbeam makes an excellent topiary specimen that can be trimmed into most shapes quite easily. They make excellent pleached or shaped trees, especially easy if you start with a modest size between 100-150cm that will easily mould against a stout bamboo cane or tree stake to give a straight stem, the perfect starting point.
The number of plants you need for a new Hornbeam hedge depends on how patient you are and the size of plant you want to begin with. Three plants per metre is adequate in a single row, especially for the larger sizes. Five per metre will give a denser hedge, especially if you plant them in a double row (you can do this with all the sizes). For a really thick and fast developing hedge you could use 7 plants per metre in a double row (this option works best with smaller sizes up to a maximum of 120/150cm in size).
If that all sounds complicated, heres a diagram!
Bare root Hornbeam hedging plants are field grown and lifted when they go dormant in the winter season from November until mid-April, this is the correct time for planting. The soil is shaken from the roots and the plants are sent out to you wrapped for protection, they should be planted within a few days of being received. Bare root hedging plants are very economical because no pots or compost are needed and far less water or fertiliser is required. Of all the bare root hedging species, Hornbeam is one of the easiest to grow so even if you haven’t tried before – this is a great species to ‘have a go’ with and get great results!
Pot grown Hornbeams are available all year round, because there is no root disturbance they can be planted at any time (there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ time of year to plant). They are a little more expensive which reflects the cost of production (and delivery because they are heavier!) but they grow away quickly without any losses. We have pot grown hedging in a very wide range of sizes, all grown here on the nursery and despatched to you freshly from their growing beds.
Rootball Hornbeam hedging plants are grown in our own fields at a very wide spacing for a number of years to produce thick set and bushy plants that give a good degree of instant effect at comparatively modest cost. These plants are lifted by our own specialist rootballing machine with the immediate soil and root system, this is wrapped in hessian sacking to retain the soil and protect the roots in transit. The hessian mesh should always be left on when you plant them, it will soon degrade naturally after planting. Rootball hedging is available when the plants are dormant, usually from mid-October until late April.
Instant Hornbeam hedging plants are grown in troughs and are available in a range of sizes. The smaller and younger instant hedging troughs have been trimmed at the sides and will provide a good level of impact at fairly modest cost. The larger sizes can give excellent privacy from the moment they are planted.
We strongly recommend you invest in Rootgrow when planting a new Hornbeam hedge, these native mycorrhizal fungi will colonise the roots of your new hedge vastly increasing its ability to find food and water in the soil and speeding up growth and establishment.
Delivery is free for most orders over £50 (excluding VAT) and we offer generoud quantity discounts for larger orders.
If you have any questions about our Carpinus betulus/Hornbeam hedging plants please give our experienced sales team a call on 01580 765600 or send us a message from our contact page.