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How to Grow Sea Buckthorn — Hippophae

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Hippophae–commonly called sea buckthorn-is an open, mounding shrub usually grown for its linear, silvery-gray-green leaves and spherical orange fruits. While the flowers are usually inconspicuous, the fruits are showy.

Hippophae tolerates low temperatures, wind, poor soil, and salt spray. It is a good screening or informal hedge plant for difficult situations.

Grow Hippophae in a mixed or shrub border, in a wild garden, or as specimens plants. In coastal areas, Hippohae can be used as a windbreak, hedging, or to stabilize sand dunes.

Hippophae is a genus of three species. It is native to coastal dunes and riverbanks from Europe into Asia.

Blooming Hippophae commonly called sea buckthorm
Blooming Hippophae commonly called sea buckthorm

Get to know Hippophae 

  • Plant type: Deciduous, dioecious shrubs and trees 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 3 to 7 
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 3
  • Height and width: 8-12 feet (2.4-3.7m)  
  • Growth rate: Fast 
  • Form and habit: Male plants grow upright; female plants spread 
  • Foliage: Leave are silvery green, slender and about 2 inches (5.1cm) long; branches are thorny 
  • Flowers: Inconspicuous flowers on bare branches 
  • Fruits: In the fall, the female plants bear enormous quantities of .3 inch bright orange berries along their stems; both male and female plants are necessary for fruit production; the fruit, disliked by birds, stays on the plant through winter until early spring 
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Screening, seaside gardens, roadside plantings, stabilizing dunes and riverbanks, erosion control; looks best in semiwild setting; lends color to naturalized areas 
  • Common name: Buckthorn 
  • Botanical name: Hippophae 
  • Family name: Elaeagnaceae 
  • Origin: Costal areas and riverbanks in Asia and Europe 

Where to plant Hippophae 

  • Plant Hippophae in full sun.  
  • Plant Hippophae in well-drained soil; spread faster in poor soil than fertile soil; does best with some organic matter keep its roots cool. 
  • Hippophae tolerates low temperatures, wind, and salt. 

When to plant Hippophae

  • Set container-grown Hippophae in the garden in spring or autumn.

Planting and spacing Hippophae 

  • To ensure good berry production, plant one male Hippophae to every six females.  

How to water and feed Hippophae 

  • Give Hippophae regular to moderate water. 
  • Feed Hippophae with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring. 
Leaves and berries of sea buckthorn
Leaves and berries of sea buckthorn

How to care for Hippophae 

  • Hippophae rarely needs pruning. 

Hippophae pests and diseases 

  • Hippophae is rarely bothered by pests or diseases.

Hippophae propagation 

  • New Hippophae plants can be started from underground stems, or suckers, from root cuttings or by forcing a branch to grow roots by the method known as ground layering.  
  • The offspring of such vegetation reproduction will be the same sex as the parent plant. 

Hippophae varieties to grow 

  • Hippophae rhamnoides, Sea buckthorn, variable in size but averaging 20 feet (6.1m) tall and wide, this large shrub or small tree has an irregular open shape and a suckering tendency. The 1-3 inch (2.5-7.6cm) willowlike leaves are gray-green and silvery, borne on spiny branches. Inconspicuous yellow-green spring flowers give way to bright orange, round to oval berries on the females. Zone 3 to 8.  

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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