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Carpinus - Hornbeam Trees

Hornbeam trees at Gardeners Dream are loved by our customers for providing year-round interest, from spring to spring, regardless of the weather! The Hornbeam family, Carpinus, is perfect for filling a wide open space with visual delight. This naturally tall and stately tree puts on a show in autumn with colourful foliage and drops leaves in the winter to reveal an intricate network of dense branches. For help planting Carpinus Hornbeam trees, reach out to our horticulturalists! In the meantime, browse our full range of Hornbeam varieties and enjoy free shipping on your order across the UK.  

Hornbeam Trees UK

The Carpinus family of Hornbeam trees are native across Eurasia and North America, with one particular species being known as the European or Common Hornbeam - Carpinus betulus. This is the main Hornbeam tree we stock at Gardeners Dream, as it never fails to delight our customers and grows healthy and strong in the UK climate.

The name 'Hornbeam' comes from Old English language, with 'horn' meaning 'hard' and 'beam' meaning 'tree'. It is commonly mixed up with birch trees (see Betula birch trees) and beech trees (see Fagus beech trees) for having similar foliage, but it is separate to both.

Our customers love Hornbeam trees due to:

  • Deciduous foliage that puts on a show with orange, red and yellow colours in autumn,

  • Monoecious catkins in spring that birds and humans alike enjoy,

  • Tall stature - depending on the cultivar these trees can reach heights of 20 metres in some circumstances,

  • Ability to be pollarded, pleached or coppiced to reduce height, develop a pleasing shape, and create a dense network of branches. If you've wanted to try topiary, this is a great species to start with,

  • Roots quickly establish and multiple plants can be planted close to each other, creating a dense hedge for privacy and screening.

Our most highly rated Hornbeam plant is the Carpinus betulus Fastigiata, which was awarded an RHS Award of Garden Merit, and is a firm best-seller at Gardeners Dream. It is commonly known as the Fastigiate Hornbeam Tree.


Why You Shouldn't Use Hornbeam Seeds

Growing Hornbeam trees from seed is an arduous and totally unnecessary process. At Gardeners Dream, we provide our trees in nursery pots (approximately 10-12 litres for our tall trees) so they are already growing healthily and are ready to be planted straight into your garden.

We nurture our seeds in UK nurseries, providing the right soil and under the careful eye of our expert horticulturalists. When you order from Gardeners Dream, you know that you will always receive high-quality, healthy and pest-free plants every time. With free delivery too!

Our best-selling species to choose from include:

  • Carpinus betulus - the native Hornbeam Tree that our ancestors grew and harvested for wood. It had numerous uses from creating parquet flooring to cart wheels. Today, the Common Hornbeam Tree is an ornamental tree with ovate, rigged small leaves that turn golden in the autumn.

  • Carpinus betulus Fastigiata - the Fastigiate Hornbeam Tree grows to a maximum height of 7 metres with a 4 metre spread, creating a flame shape. It's a tough and tolerant variety that can withstand most soil types and all weather conditions. Its narrow shape makes it popular with smaller garden spaces.

  • Carpinus betulus 'Rockhampton Red' - while the green foliage of this tree is beautiful, it's the fiery red shades of the leaves in autumn that really catch the eye. This Rockhampton Red Hornbeam requires an open space with full sun. It has a maximum spread of 8 metres and is more rounded than other varieties.

Planting these varieties is simple. All Hornbeam tree varieties are hardy and can survive most soils - just so long as it's well draining and not waterlogged. It is also notorious for surviving almost any weather conditions, whether you're in the cold and wet far north of the UK or exposed to high winds by the coast.


From Fruit Trees to Beech Trees - Shop Gardeners Dream!

Our Hornbeam Trees are not only the hardy trees at Gardeners Dream! From classic Oak Trees to easy-going Crab Apple Trees, we have hundreds to choose from. Whether you need a tree to fill a space, or want to admire fruits, female catkins and autumn colour displays, you can order easily from Gardeners Dream.

When you order one of our trees, we deliver it directly to your door no matter your address in the UK. Furthermore, we do it for free! There's no minimum order threshold so whether you're ordering small flowering plants or a whole hedgerow worth of shrubs, you don't need to worry about lugging them back from the gardening centre.

All you need to do is order your Hornbeam from Gardeners Dream and get planting!



What does hornbeam look like in winter?

Hornbeam leaves, like the beech leaf, turn wonderful colours in the autumn with winged nuts, then drop in the winter. Depending on your location, such as the South East of England, the leaves may drop sooner than elsewhere in the country. But, as a deciduous tree, they will definitely drop as the season changes!

How fast does a hornbeam tree grow?

Once the roots are established in soil, Hornbeam trees can grow up to 1 metre per year (mostly in spring and summer rather than the winter season) - this makes them relatively fast-growing. Choose native British and European Hornbeam Trees for the best success.

How tall does a hornbeam tree get?

Common Hornbeam is a large tree and when placed in full sun, it can grow up to 10 metres. Other plants in this family can reach heights of 20 metres or are dwarf varieties and remain closer to the ground. Hornbeams can be coppiced and pruned to control their height and spread.

Can you keep hornbeam tree small?

Yes, absolutely! In fact, it's fairly common for Hornbeam Trees to be coppiced and trimmed at the trunk to provide wood for timber and numerous other purposes. Like beech trees and other tree varieties, the best time to coppice is in the early spring before the first frost rather than in winter.

Hornbeams are also pleached trees, meaning that the branches can be manipulated and woven when young to alter the shape.

Is hornbeam poisonous to dogs?

Hornbeams have no reported toxicity for cats, dogs and other pets. The male and female catkins, as well as the bark and seedlings, are consumed by wildlife without issue.

Is hornbeam suitable for a small garden?

Growing Hornbeam trees requires some open space with direct sunlight rather than partial shade. However, not all trees will grow to 20 metres with an 8 metre spread! In fact, Hornbeams can be trimmed to a narrow 3 metres or pleached into a Hornbeam hedge.

What are the benefits of planting a hornbeam?

Hornbeam trees are native to the UK and provide a food source for birds, particularly finches throughout the year. In the warm months, small mammals eat the catkins, foliage and fruits that develop too. As a deciduous plant, it provides year-round changing interest. When you order potted trees from Gardeners Dream, you can create an instant impact the moment they are established.

What's the difference between beech and hornbeam?

Beech, Fagus, and Hornbeam, Carpinus, are not the same tree. These two species are deciduous, planted frequently in the UK, and are a food plant for wildlife. When planted near each other, you'd be mistaken for mixing the two as their leaves are very similar in shape and colour.

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