Give your home a little more privacy with this shrub.

Colorful Combinations

Call on buckthorn to screen the view into a neighboring yard. This deciduous shrub makes an excellent hedge plant and can easily be maintained at a specific size with an annual pruning. You can also use it as a leafy living wall to enclose a patio. Or try planting a row of buckthorn along a lackluster garage wall to transform the sterile area into a backyard habitat.

Buckthorn produces berries in summer, making it a stopping place for birds. Pair buckthorn with other berry-producing shrubs to create a bountiful backyard buffet. Try the following easy-to-grow bird-friendly shrubs as companion plants: dwarf cranberry bush viburnum, beautybush (a member of the honeysuckle family), and Oregon grape holly.

Buckthorn Care Must-Knows

Buckthorn is an adaptable shrub. It grows best in full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil. It prefers consistent moisture, but it tolerates a variety of soil types and environments, including dry foundation planting areas and planting spots that receive just a few hours of sunlight a day. Plant buckthorn in spring, and water it regularly during the first growing season. After establishing a strong root system, it will better tolerate dry conditions.

Prune buckthorn as needed in spring based on the type. Fine Line buckthorn displays an upright, columnar habit and rarely requires pruning. Narrow leaf buckthorn exhibits an open habit and benefits from annual pruning to maintain a dense branching structure.

Watch for a variety of problems that include cankers, caterpillars, Japanese beetles, leaf spots, rust, and scale. The roots may be attacked by nematodes.

More Varieties of Buckthorn


Buckthorn Overview

Description Most buckthorn varieties are easy-to-grow shrubs that make great privacy screens, backdrops, or hedges, thanks to their dense habit and lustrous, dark-green foliage. Steer clear of several types of buckthorn, though. Common or European buckthorn and glossy or alder buckthorn are invasive species that are illegal to sell and plant in many areas. Noxious weeds, these rogue buckthorns degrade woodlands and wildlife habitats; prevent native plants from accessing nutrients, light and moisture; and are difficult to eradicate. 
Genus Name Rhamnus
Common Name Buckthorn
Plant Type Shrub
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 3 to 8 feet
Width 2 to 15 feet
Flower Color Green
Season Features Spring Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Low Maintenance
Zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Good For Privacy

Fine Line Fern Leaf Buckthorn

Rhamnus Fine Line buckthorn
Dean Schoeppner

Rhamnus frangula 'Ron Williams' grows 5 to 7 feet tall and 2 feet wide. It adds texture and shape to the garden with its narrow columnar habit and lacy foliage. This variety should not be planted in the Midwest where it is considered invasive. Zones 3-7.

Variegated Italian Buckthorn

Italian buckthorn Rhamnus alaternus 'Variegata'
Denny Schrock

Rhamnus alternus is an evergreen shrub that bears attractive gray-green foliage edged in white. It makes a great hedge thanks to its dense habit. It's also good as a topiary subject or patio tree. This variety grows 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Zones 7-9.

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