Italian Alder Saplings / Hedging
Alnus cordataSaplings / Hedging
- Loves wet sites.
- Sizes: Saplings & Standards
- Best Alder for hedges.
- Max. Height: 30m
- Bareroot Delivery Only: Nov-Mar.
- RHS Award of Garden Merit
Alnus cordata: Bareroot Italian Alder Hedging Plants
Delivered by Mail Order Direct from our Nursery with a Year Guarantee
Italian Alder is a vigorous deciduous tree with glossy green leaves and a neat, tear-drop shaped canopy that grows well on poor or waterlogged soils, making a tough and reliable rough-and-ready country hedge. It grows well in any reasonably sunny aspect and on any soil, except sandy. It can reach 30 metres if it grows freely as a tree, although 20 metres is more typical.
The plants on this page are young saplings, ideal for planting as hedging or in woodland projects. You can also buy larger Italian Alder trees here.
Browse the rest of our hedging and young trees here.
Delivery season: Italian alder hedge plants are delivered bareroot during late autumn and winter, approximately November-March inclusive.
Choosing a size: Small plants are cheaper and generally more convenient for hedge use, unless instant impact is your priority. If you're only buying a few plants for ornamental use, then you may as well use bigger ones. All our hedge plants are measured by their height in centimetres above the ground (the roots aren't measured).
- Any soil except very sandy, any sunny location.
- Ideal tough country hedging.
- Yellow winter catkins; small cone-like fruit
- Max. Height: 30m
- RHS Award of Garden Merit
Growing Italian Alder
It grows on wet sites and poor soils, including chalky ones, and is the best alder for drier sites. It even tolerates salt-laden winds with ease. All alders enrich the soil with nitrogen, released from the colonies of nitrogen-fixing bacteria living on their roots. This makes them perfectly suited for reclaiming sites with degraded soil. Alder roots are strong and fibrous, so they're excellent at binding loose soil.
Of all the alders, Italian is the best for hedging. It looks good as a low-maintenance, informal hedge that is clipped hard every other year, in late winter to early spring. It is also an excellent screening and windbreak tree. It's quick to put on height and doesn't bend out of shape with the wind.
Yellow-brown catkins are produced in spring, along with the bright green edible foliage. The roots are invasive and can break old water pipes and damage the foundations of old buildings or walls, so plant at a safe 30 metres from vulnerable structures. New-build concrete foundations are not at risk.
Spacing an Italian Alder hedge:
Plant at 2 per metre, 50cm apart.
Good in Your Garden
This is a graceful tree with lovely, almost heart-shaped, shiny green leaves and attractive catkins in late winter, followed by mahogany button-like cones. It's great as a specimen tree in a waterlogged spot, used as a windbreak on a blustery hillside or, if you have the space, to create a grand walkway either side of a wide path or driveway. In a meadow setting, swathes of cow parsley can look stunning around Italian alders; it appreciates similar moist conditions, thriving in damp semi-shade.
Did You Know?
Native to southern Italy and Corsica, Italian Alder is monoecious, bearing both male and female flowers in separate catkins in late winter, the male ones more conspicuous; the females smaller, developing later into woody, green fruits. These turn deep brown as they ripen.
Red-orange Italian alder wood is valued in carpentry as it's good for turning, carving and moulding. Some of its most popular uses include veneer, panelling and clogs. Where it excels, however, is below the water line, hence its use for supports and piles in Italy's 'city of love', Venice.
Bonsai growers will be pleased to know that it makes a good subject for this diminutive treatment, responding to specialist pruning by branching out well and quickly producing much smaller leaves.
Former botanical names: Alnus tiliacea, Alnus cordifolia
Flowers & Bees: In late winter, trees produce pretty yellow catkins (long male ones; short, stubby female ones). These provide early pollen for bees, but are mostly wind pollinated.
Firewood: Italian alder makes good firewood. It's classified as a hardwood, but is much softer than many of the classic hardwoods such as oak and ash. It's quick and easy to light and burns brightly, giving off a lovely classic firewood scent. Its warm orange colour also looks fabulous stacked up next to the wood burner.
Growing Italian Alder plants:
Italian Alder will grow well in pretty much any soil. It tolerates chalk, sea winds, urban pollution, poor soil and waterlogging. It prefers full sun. It prefers a moist or wet soil, but out of all the Alders, it is still the best choice for dry soils.
It will not grow well in the shade.
Even though it is very hardy, Italian Alder is still a Mediterranean tree. We suggest planting native Common Alder in exposed North-Eastern and Scottish regions, just to be on the safe side.
Prepare your site before planting:
It is good to dig over the area where you plant a hedge several months in advance, especially if the soil is poor. Destroy the weeds first: nettles, brambles and ground elder are tough and a glyphosate based weed-killer is the best way to remove them. Then dig the soil over; remove rocks, roots and other rubbish. Mix in well rotted compost or manure down to the depth of about 2 spades. If your soil is rich, you don't have to dig it over, but killing all the weeds is still necessary.
Watch our video on how to plant a country hedge for full details. The instruction to cut the plants in half after planting only applies to thorny native hedging and plants in the conservation hedge mix: this isn't necessary for Italian Alder.
Remember to water establishing plants during dry weather for at least a year after planting.
Hedge Planting Accessories:
Prepare your site for planting by killing the weeds and grass with Neudorff WeedFree Plus.
You can buy a hedge planting pack with sheets of mulch fabric and pegs to hold it down.
If you are planting in an area with rabbit and/or deer, you will need to use a plastic spiral guard for each plant, supported by a bamboo cane.
If your soil quality is poor, we recommend using mycorrhizal "friendly fungi" on the roots of new trees and shrubs.
You can also improve your soil with bonemeal organic fertiliser and Growmore.