Alder Buckthorn Hedge Plants
Frangula alnusHedge Plants
- Large, hardy native shrub.
- Ideal for wet, peaty sites.
- Good for hedging.
- Max. Height: 7m
- Bareroot Delivery Only: Nov-Mar.
Frangula alnus: Bareroot Alder Buckthorn Hedging Plants
Alder Buckthorn is a large native shrub or small tree that is ideal for country hedging. It produces red berries in the spring that mature and darken to almost black in autumn, which contrast well with its lovely yellow autumn foliage.
Delivery season: Alder Buckthorn hedge plants are only delivered bareroot, during late autumn and winter, approximately November-March inclusive.
- Native deciduous shrub/tree.
- Very hardy.
- Moist, acidic soils.
- Good for wildlife hedging.
- Max. Height: 5m.
Growing Alder Buckthorn
It is extremely hardy and will grow on wet, boggy sites. It will grow well in any fertile, acidic soil conditions. It tolerates partial shade or dappled shade underneath large trees. In the wild, it grows in open woods, scrubland, hedgerows and wet areas like bogs and riverbanks. Avoid growing on chalk or in very shady sites.
When grown as a specimen tree, alder buckthorn needs no routine pruning, although it will tolerate hard pruning if necessary to maintain its shape. Prune in late winter or early spring, outside the nesting season for birds.
Spacing an Alder Buckthorn hedge:
Plant at 3 plants per metre, 33cms apart. You can also plant at 5 plants per metre in a staggered double row, with 33cms between each plant along the row and 40cms between the rows.
Good in Your Garden
Alder buckthorn is great as a small specimen tree in a wildlife border. The berries are loved by birds, especially thrushes and the flowers are excellent for bees. It can be combined with other berried shrubs like cotoneaster and hawthorn, and underplanted with small herbaceous perennials such as cyclamen, sweet violet and wood anemone.
As part of a native hedge, it can be planted alongside other native trees, shrubs and rambling plants such as blackthorn, field maple, holly, dog-rose, wayfaring tree and ivy. Using a wide variety of species creates varied habitat for wildlife and a long flowering season with pollen and nectar produced for many months of the year.
Did You Know?
Despite its name, the alder buckthorn is neither an alder, nor does it have thorns. Recently, botanists have determined that the former Rhamnus frangula really belongs in its own genus, and it is now officially called Frangula alnus. It is also known as black dogwood, breaking buckthorn or glossy buckthorn.
It was used as a dye plant in the past with a yellow pigment made from the foliage and bark. A blue or grey dye can be made from the ripe berries and the unripe berries produce a green pigment.
Along with Purging Buckthorn, this plant is the only food source for the beautiful yellow brimstone butterfly.
Flowers & Bees: It is an excellent host for bees and butterflies, although the tiny flowers aren't really visible amongst the leaves. It isn't the most ornamental shrub, but it is excellent for wildlife.
Firewood: The charcoal made from buckthorn wood is one of the best for making gunpowder. The wood is durable and easy to sharpen, so was used historically for nails, skewers and arrows.
Growing Alder Buckthorn plants:
Alder Buckthorn will grow well in any fertile, acidic soil conditions. They love wet, boggy soil near rivers or lakes and they tolerate partial shade or dappled shade underneath large trees.
They will not grow on chalk, and they will not grow well if the site is very shady.
Prepare your site before planting:
Native hedge plants like Alder Buckthorn are very tough. The only essential preparation is to kill the weeds in a strip a metre wide along the planting site: improving the soil should not be necessary. If your soil is exceptionally poor and dry, then digging in some well rotted manure and/or compost is worthwhile.
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 Alder Buckthorn.
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.
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.
After you have planted your Alder Buckthorn hedge, the most important thing to do is water it in dry weather. You will also need to weed around the plants. Watering should be thorough, so the ground is soaked. Let the soil almost dry out before watering again. Watering & weeding will be necessary for at least a year after planting.
Trimming Country hedge plants:
From the winter after planting onwards, your young hedge should be trimmed lightly once every winter, until it is mature. When it is fully grown, you can clip it at anytime.
Special notes on caring for Alder Buckthorn hedges:
Alder Buckthorn is a very tough hedge plant that shouldn't need special attention once it has established. If you didn't use a mulch fabric, it is beneficial to mulch around the base of the hedge each year.
Hygiene & Diseases:
Dead, damaged or diseased wood can be pruned off as soon as it appears.
Disinfect your pruning tools between every cut if there is any sign of disease.
Burn or dispose of any diseased material, do not compost it.