Hornbeam (Carpinus)

Hornbeam forms a beautiful, formal hedge. It has attractive green leaves very similar to those of Beech hedging but they have serrated edges and have deeper veins. It is native to the UK and is tolerant of poorer growing conditions including wet, heavy clay soils, strong wind and shade.  Hornbeam can be planted as a single species or combined with other native hedging to form a mixed native hedge. 

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Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is a native hedging plant with beautiful apple-green, pleated leaves that turn yellow and orange in the autumn. It is very hardy and tolerant of heavy clay soils.  Hornbeam is very similar in appearance to a Beech hedge and many people struggle to tell the difference.

Hornbeam is not evergreen but, like Beech, it will hold on to its dried leaves in the winter to help provide an all-year-round screen.

Why plant a Hornbeam hedge?

  • Attractive, formal-looking hedge
  • Hardy
  • Tolerant of heavy clay and poor soils
  • Catkins in spring
  • Hop-like fruit in clusters in late summer and autumn
  • Good for nesting birds
  • Native to the UK

Planting Advice

Hornbeam (Carpinus)

When can I plant?

You can plant our container-grown Hornbeam plants at any time of year.  Bare-root plants can only be planted between November and March (over the winter).

What type of soil and growing conditions does a Hornbeam hedge need?

Hornbeam will grow in most soils including heavy clay, wet and chalky soils. It grows in any soil as long as it isn’t water-logged for long periods over the winter in full sun or partial shade. It is tolerant of wind and will grow in exposed sites.

How tall will Hornbeam grow?

It can be trimmed to any height but if left unchecked, it will grow into a medium to large majestic tree more than 8 metres (25ft) tall.

How fast will it grow?

Hornbeam will grow approximately 30-60cm (1-2ft) per year if it is given good conditions for growth.

How often would I need to trim a Hornbeam hedge?      

Trim back to the height and width you want once a year.

How far apart should I plant Hornbeam?

Plants in 2 to 5 litre pots should be planted 3 to 5 per metre.

We recommend planting our 10 litre pot-grown Hornbeam 2-4 plants per metre.

Our instant hedging troughs of Hornbeam can be planted one per metre to form an immediate screen as these are one metre wide.

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Additional Information

Hornbeam (Carpinus)

Additional Information about Hornbeam

Botanical name: Carpinus betulus

Alternative names: Common Hornbeam, European Hornbeam

Hornbeam is native to the UK and most of Europe and can be kept as a hedge or grown into a majestic tree. It has both male and female catkins on the same plant. The female catkins turn into papery winged fruits that hang in clusters from the branches in the autumn. These are known as samaras.

Other names include European and Common Hornbeam and Horn Beech.  Its botanical name is Carpinus betulus.

Alternatives to Hornbeam

Beech (Fagus sylvatica) is very similar looking and has glossy green leaves that turn a brighter orange/gold in the winter. It is also deciduous (not evergreen) but holds on to some of its leaves in the winter as well.  However, it will not tolerate a wet soil like Hornbeam.

Portugal Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) is evergreen and has small, dark green leaves.  It grows quicker than Hornbeam and has bright red stems.

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