Welcome to SBT Seabuckthorn Blog Q&A, where we answer questions you’ve asked about seabuckthorn! An internet reader wondered about the particulars of growing seabuckthorn, and here’s the answer.
Seabuckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) is a deciduous tree-like shrub that grows to 2-4 metres in height, and has a productive maximum age of approximately 30 years. It grows well in agricultural zones up to Zone 3 (reports of successful cultivation, including reports by readers of this blog, go up to Zone 7), and is hardy to –40 °C. The plant is mature for harvesting purposes at 4-5 years.
Seabuckthorn has been grown successfully in a wide range of soil types, but it grows best in pH-neutral soil that is light and well-drained, with a high percentage of organic material. Seabuckthorn requires a high phosphorous content for good fruit yield (less if the plant is to be used for agricultural purposes such as animal fodder or soil reclamation), and its potassium and nitrogen requirements are negligible (it is a nitrogen fixer).
Because seabuckthorn does particularly poorly in high-water-table or shady circumstances, it is most successful on south-facing slopes.
The plants can be propagated either from seeds or cuttings, and seed cultivation is improved by soaking the seeds in warm water for 48 hours. While the plants can be grown from seed outside, starting the plants indoors (or using cuttings) is useful because of the harvesting requirement of a proper distribution of male to female plants.
For seabuckthorn orchards, the soil should ideally be prepared a year in advance, however this is not necessary for uses where fruit yield is not paramount.
Successful seabuckthorn orchards are currently in production in many countries of Asia and Europe, across the US, and in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and British Columbia (as far as we know for certain, there may be more), and the plant grows well but with lower fruit production in many other areas.
Hope that provides a good starting point for interested readers! To check out a more thorough and complete production guide, and for further reading, please check out the links below.
Complete seabuckthorn production guide – from Seabuckthorn.com – .pdf file
Complete seabuckthorn production guide – .html version from google
Introduction to Sea Buckthorn – from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture – .html
Sea Buckthorn New Crop Opportunity – from Purdue University – .html
A blog post from a Canadian producer – from CityNews.ca