How to grow sea buckthorn (seaberry): planting, growing, care

How to grow sea buckthorn (seaberry) planting, growing, care
How to grow sea buckthorn (seaberry) planting, growing, care

Today, a magical shrub or low tree can be found in almost every garden, about which the saying goes: “sea buckthorn can resist any rush.” This statement seems to be related to the fact that sea buckthorn has been known as a medicinal plant since ancient Greek healers, successfully treating most common diseases. Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides), belonging to the rhombic family (Elaeagnaceae), also known as Sea Berrie’s sandthorn, sallowthorn, or seaberry, and many books describe the appearance of these plants and the shape of their leaves.

In Latinized Greek, it means horse shine, suggesting that sea buckthorn leaves are added to the horse’s feed to give its skin an unusual shine. Sea buckthorn is an ancient plant. Ancient Greek healers and scientists wrote treatises on their healing properties.


Sea buckthorn is widely distributed on all continents of the earth, where climatic and soil conditions are suitable. Hippophae rhamnoides, the common sea buckthorn, is the most widely distributed species in the genus, with its eight subspecies extending from the Atlantic coast of Europe to northwestern Mongolia and northwestern China. In central Asia, it is more widely distributed in dry, semi-desert areas where other plants cannot survive in dry conditions.

In Europe and Central Asia, it also occurs as a subalpine shrub above the tree line in mountainous areas and in other sunny places, such as riverbanks, where it is used to stabilize erosion. They usually grow in dry, sandy areas.
More than 90% or approximately 1,500,000 hectares (3,700,000 acres) of the world’s natural buckthorn habitat is located in China, Mongolia, Russia, Northern Europe, Ukraine, and Canada, where the plant is used for soil, water, and wildlife conservation, antisanding purposes, and consumer products.
The USDA hardiness zone for sea buckthorn is about 3 to 7.


Sea buckthorn is found throughout the United States, and breeders have produced many varieties whose fruits are used in the medical and food industries.

Sea buckthorn is a multi-branched deciduous shrub, 3-16 feet (1-5 m) tall, with tree-like perennial branches. Generally, the shoots on the ground form a circular or spreading crown of shoots of different ages. The young have silvery hairs on their bodies. As the age of the shoot, they develop a dark brown to black bark. The shortened shoots have many long spines.

The root system of sea buckthorn consists of 1-2-3 orders of perennial skeletal branches located in a 15-20inch (40-50 cm) layer of soil. Their edges are wrapped by persistent roots that perform their primary function. Nodules with nitrogen-fixing bacteria are formed on the roots.

The sea buckthorn has simple lance-shaped leaves arranged in alternating rows on the shoots. The leaves are covered with silvery hairs that conceal their basic green color. The pubic hairs give the entire plant a silvery-green appearance that looks great in combination with the greenery. Sea buckthorn is a hermaphroditic wind-borne plant that requires male pollinators to form a crop. Its female flowers are clustered in the axils of the thorns and shortened branchlets that cover all sides of the plant. Male flowers are in short spikes. One tree per 538-1076 square feet (50-100 square meters) of the area is sufficient for pollination. Sea buckthorn blooms in April and May. It takes 2-4 years from planting to the first fruit. It matures in August-September. No sea buckthorn varieties have been introduced to make harvesting easier.

The sea buckthorn fruit varies in color from yellow to orange to red and is very showy. The stone (false knot) is topped with a juicy rind and has a light pineapple flavor. The fruit has a single, smooth, sometimes black, shiny stone.


Canadian breeders have produced dozens of varieties based on sea buckthorn. They are characterized by frost tolerance and large, thornless fruits, which simplify fruit collection. As of 2003, approximately 100 km of protected wilderness forest is planted annually in Canada. Over 250,000 mature fruit plants are grown on the Canadian prairies, resulting in an estimated annual fruit supply of 750,000 kg.

  1. ‘Russian Orange’ sea buckthorn (HIPPOPHAE rhamnoides)-Large upright shrub with small yellow flowers and attractive grey-green foliage. Orange-yellow berries in summer, one of the first varieties to ripen. The berries are very tasty and healthy, ideal for juicing. Used for medicinal oil. Used as medicinal oil. Rich in vitamins C, A and E. Needs male pollinators.
    Sea buckthorn ‘Raisa’ – Sea buckthorn is a thorny shrub with separate male and female plants, capable of improving the relatively poor soil around it. It bears orange berry-like fruits on thorny branches. *The shrub usually fruits within three years and reaches its maximum yield in seven or eight years. Male plants flower…
  2. sea buckthorn ‘Caprice’ (HIPPOPHAE rhamnoides) – A vigorous, hardy variety that matures early. Produces orange-yellow berries and gray-green foliage. Can tolerate dry conditions once established.
  3. Sea buckthorn ‘Golden Rain’ (HIPPOPHAE rhamnoides) – Available 2018 Made from the Moscow variety. Long harvesting period. Good disease resistance. Good recovery after size. Good growth rate after important pruning
  4. Sea buckthorn ‘Harvest Moon’ (HIPPOPHAE rhamnoides) – Harvest Moon is a Canadian hybrid with easy-to-pick berries with few thorns. Tolerates poor, dry soils and salinity. Yields 5 Lb (2.3 kg) per plant in the first year. The medium-sized orange berries weigh 1.7 Lb (0.8 kg). Easy to pick by hand or harvest mechanically.
  5. Sea buckthorn ‘Hergo’ – New/German variety Hergo female This medium thorny shrub is less hardy in the Leikora variety. Its orange-yellow berries are very acidic. Sea buckthorn is a thorny shrub with separate male and female plants that improve the relatively poor soil. It produces orange berry-like…
  6. Sea buckthorn ‘Leikora’ (HIPPOPHAE rhamnoides) – Available in June, Leikora is a German hybrid that produces large quantities of large orange berries until late fall. Large, upright, vigorous shrub. Berries ripen in September. Tolerates poor, dry soils and salt. Extremely ornamental.
  7. Sea buckthorn ‘Mary’ – Sea buckthorn is a thorny shrub with separate male and female plants, capable of improving the relatively poor soil around it. It bears orange berry-like fruits on thorny branches. *The shrub usually fruits within three years and reaches its maximum yield in seven or eight years. Male plants flower…
    These are the common varieties.


Biologists who study the plant composition of various fauna say that for good health, three shrubs in the garden plot are enough – sea buckthorn, dogwood, and iris, whose organs are used in medicine (roots, shoots, bark, leaves, flowers, and fruits).

A multivitamin crop whose fruits contain B vitamins. Large amounts of vitamins “C,” “E,” “K,” former vitamin “A,” up to 6% of sugars, up to 2.5% of organic acids, quercetin. The fruit pulp and seeds contain up to 9% and 12% fatty oils, respectively.
The fruit and leaves contain boron, potassium, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and calcium. Several types of plant antibiotics have been found in the composition of the fruits and leaves. Sea buckthorn leaves and bark are rich in sea buckthorn alkaloids. In the bark, there are up to 10 different types of tannins and oils (up to 3%) that have a different composition than the oils of the fruit.


In the official pharmacopoeia used sea buckthorn oil for the treatment of various skin diseases (skin tuberculosis, bedsores, ulcers, bruises), nasopharynx (tonsillitis, epiglottitis, rhinitis), gynecological drugs, in gastrointestinal disorders, with low vitamin and other diseases.

Infusion of sea buckthorn leaves helps in the treatment of stomach disorders, rheumatism, and gout.

Alcoholic extract of sea buckthorn bark is used in pathological tissue overgrowth. It has a radioprotective effect.

Folk remedies cover almost all human systems. Sea buckthorn oil, aqueous decoction, infusion, and ointment can be prepared at home and taken internally or applied externally.

Sea buckthorn is used fresh. It is used to make juices, jams, marmalades, liquors, etc.


Sea buckthorn is a frost-resistant and light-requiring crop that does not require high outdoor conditions. Their canopy can withstand frosts down to -40 to -22°F (-40 to -30°C), and their root system can withstand frosts down to -13°F (-25°C).
If a deep snow cover creates positive temperature conditions in the soil (at an outside temperature of 32°F (0°C)), the roots of the sea buckthorn will begin to thaw. The plant becomes diseased and may die. Therefore, thawing is not uncommon in snow-covered areas of mid-latitudes, where the snow layer is reduced by shoveling snow from the trunk. This measure evens out the temperature and prevents plants from melting.

Site selection

The root system of the sea buckthorn is shallow and extends horizontally beyond the tree canopy. The crop does not like proximity to other crops and frequent cultivation. So choose a site with enough space and light around it. sea buckthorn’s unpopular predecessors: apricots, cherries, plums, pomegranates, apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries).
Planting material is best purchased in a nursery from 2-3-year-old seedlings with good root systems. sea buckthorn needs watering in dry years. It should be planted where the water table is above 40-80inch (1-2m) as it does not tolerate standing water.

Preparing the soil

The best soil for sea buckthorn is fertile, permeable, and breathable soil with a neutral response. If the soil is heavy, prepare large planting holes before planting and fill them with specially prepared soil.
Mix the top layer of the excavated soil 1:1 or 1:2 with humus or mulch and add sand. Apply 50-60 g of calcium superphosphate and 40-50 g of potash per planting hole. Nitroglycerin may be applied at a rate of 60-80 g per planting hole. The fertilizer should be well mixed with the soil. The amount and proportion of fertilizer may vary depending on the type of soil on site.

Quality of seedlings and planting rules

For a family, 2-3-4 female plants and 1 male plant (pollinator) are sufficient. You do not need to buy male plants if there are male plants in the adjacent plots.

When choosing seedlings for planting, you should pay attention to the following points.

  1. The sapling should have 2-4 skeletal roots of 6-8inch (15-20 cm) with a shallowly cleft root system.
  2. A trunk up to 15-20inch (40-50cm) tall with several side shoots.
  3. Bark that is flexible, smooth, and not peeling; discolored bark indicates that the seedling has been frosted in the spring; buying such a seedling is risky.

A few hours before planting, place the seedlings in a container with water and add a rooting agent. You can soak the roots of the seedlings in clay putty before planting.

Planting holes should be spaced 60-80inch (1.5-2m) apart. Plant seedlings in the spring to allow them to acclimate to growing conditions and develop a good root system. Planting holes are 20x20x23inch (50x50x60 cm) or larger if the soil needs a lot of humus, peat, sand, and other ingredients added to improve physical properties. Lime is applied in the fall to neutralize the acidified soil. The soil mixture is applied to the planting hole, forming a mound in the center. The roots of the seedlings are laid on top and covered with the remaining soil. Consolidate the soil by gradually pouring in 1.5-2 buckets of water and covering it with fine mulch (peat, humus, shavings). During planting, the root neck should be bent into the soil 2-2.8inch (5-7cm). This method will promote the formation of more root systems. To prevent the trunk from bending under wind pressure, tape or twine is used to tie it to the stand through a figure of eight.

The best soil for sea buckthorn is fertile
The best soil for sea buckthorn is fertile


Prune sea buckthorn hygienically in the spring, before the buds bloom, and after harvest. Remove any dry, diseased, broken, or inward growing branches. Clean wounds, disinfect, and treat shrubs/trees with 1-2% Bordeaux mixture.

During the flowering of sea buckthorn, the male plants should be shaken to disperse the pollen. If there are no male plants nearby, cut individual twigs from the male plants and shake them in the middle of the female plants.

With the arrival of stable warm weather, water the sea buckthorn if there is a light snowfall in winter and dry spring (May-early June). Otherwise, watering can be postponed until later.

In summer, water repeatedly, but at a moderate rate, without standing water. The next day, loosen the soil slightly – no deeper than 2inch (5cm) and cover the soil. If the roots of the sea buckthorn are damaged during the tearing process, the shrub/tree will begin to form root buds or become sick from root/stem rot.

In the summer, water the sea buckthorn as needed, soaking the soil layer to 12-16inch (30-40 cm). A mulch layer of no more than 2inch (5cm) will keep the soil moist without unwanted loosening. The decaying mulch will be used as additional fertilizer when digging in the fall.

Fertilize sea buckthorn once or twice a year or every other year if the soil is heavy. Apply a bucket of manure solution (1:6) under the mulch in the spring and 0.5 buckets of humus/compost and 120-200 g and 100-120 g of phosphate and potash per shrub or tree in the fall, respectively.
You can change the fertilization pattern by applying a solution of poultry manure (1:8) or cow manure (1:6) in the spring, alternating with nitroglycerin or other complete fertilizers. In midsummer or after harvest, you can fertilize with irrigation or infusions of dry haylage. In spring, you can limit the application of ammonium nitrate (25-30 g per clump/tree) and organic solutions.

To form larger and fuller fruits, sea buckthorn is treated with a micronutrient, Efferton, humic acid solution at a rate of 1 tablespoon per bucket of water when the leaf margins or ovaries begin to grow.

The soil should be kept free of weeds and undergrowth throughout the growing season.

By fall, the harvest loaded on the branches of the sea buckthorn should be supported.

You can plant sea buckthorn as a shrub or a tree
You can plant sea buckthorn as a shrub or a tree


You can plant sea buckthorn as a shrub or a tree.

In shrub formation, planted sea buckthorn saplings are cut at the level of 6-8inch (15-20 cm). The following year, the most developed 3-5 shoots are selected from the rootstock, and the rest are removed completely. The bush is lifted to 8-9 buds. Then thinning and rejuvenation begin with the removal of 1 branch per year.

In the case of grafted seedlings, the following spring, 4-5 shoots are cut off from the annual shoots. In the summer, they produce growth, and the following spring 3-5 skeletal branches are selected from the lower buds of uniform growth. The rest are removed in a circular fashion. The skeletal branches left behind are pruned slightly. This early spring pruning of sea buckthorn will result in heavy annual growth of sea buckthorn that will be harvested in the year following the pruning. All thickened and bent shoots are removed.

Starting at 5-6 years of age, the sea buckthorn bush is rejuvenated, and a small crop is formed by cutting off one of the oldest branches at the base during fall pruning.

During the summer inspection of the sea buckthorn (in the middle of the growing season), all branches that did not produce any growth during the year were cut off. Such branches end in fringed leaves that wither at the end of the growing season. But they take away some of the plant’s nutrients.

To form a sea buckthorn tree, prune 3 to 4 buds on the seedling. The following spring, prune the top 1-2inch (2.5-5 cm). The plucking helps the development of side shoots. In the third year, before budding and flowering or in late fall, clean the future trunk to a height of 15-20inch (40-50 cm) from the lateral buds. The wound is disinfected. Thereafter, 1-2 orders of skeletal branches are formed and grow each year. Wounds on sea buckthorn heal slowly, so it takes 2-4 years to form. No more than 2-3 branches are cut each year to become a ring. In the form of a tree, it is more advantageous to form male plants, while the female ones should remain in the form of a bush.


Sea buckthorn reproduces by seed and asexually. It should be taken into account that during seed propagation, the plant does not pass on the characteristics of the parent species. Therefore, it is better to take advantage of asexual propagation opportunities such as bush division, rootstock propagation, transplanting, cuttings, or grafting.

Shrub division, grafting, and cuttings are the most common propagation methods used at home. Propagation methods are the same as those for other shrubs (currants).


Adult sea buckthorn plants are rarely affected by diseases and pests. At a young age, sea buckthorn can become diseased when other crops are attacked by similar pests and diseases.

Sea buckthorn is most often affected by fungal diseases: blackleg on seedlings, endophytic fungal diseases, gray and brown rot on fruits, black cancer on large branches, scab on fruits, young shoots, leaves, etc. With proper care, sea buckthorn plants are quite resistant to disease. The best way to protect them from diseases is to use a biological agent, or a 1% Bordeaux mixture at the beginning of the harvest and after the harvest, and the same biological agent during the growing season. The following biological agents are very effective against fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases: Trichodermin, etc.

The most common pests are green sea buckthorn aphids, spotted mites, sea buckthorn gall mites, omnivorous leaf mites, sea buckthorn moths, and gypsy moths. As with disease control, pest control is best done with biological agents – Metarizin biopesticides, etc.

The use of biological preparations is harmless to humans, animals, birds, and useful insects. These preparations can be used until the time of harvesting. Their application, dosage, dilution, frequency, and periodicity of spraying are specified in the accompanying recommendations. They can easily be used to make mixing tanks, as some preparations are effective on their own. Always check the compatibility of formulations before preparing a spray mixture.

More related information about growing sea buckthorn plants

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