Sea Berry (Buckthorn) in pots? Varieties?

altadenamaraMay 21, 2008

Sea berries (sea buckthorn) seem to be an exceptionally healthy fruit to eat, rich in several vitamines. The juice is described as a blend of orange and passion fruit juice, if a sweetener is added. I would like to grow one or two bushes to try them out here. What is your experience growing and eating them?

A search of Gardenweb turned up that the plants are vigorous growers; the juice is easy to make with modern juicers; and the biggest problem in growing them is that they grow big, fast, and then sucker all over the yard. One Green World carries eighteen varieties. Several new varieties are described as compact growers.

Has anyone tried growing these plants in pots, to prevent their spread? Yes, you can prune them back, but one person said he lost his berry crop the next year doing that.

The OGW catalog describes only "Sunny" as being "delicious eaten fresh". Some varieties seem to produce berries that are higher in vitamins than others. The Russian name for one is Vitaminaya (Radiant), so that seemed like a good bet for nutrition. Or are they all pretty much the same?

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Seaberry is a prairie plant of the north. I wouldn't even try growing them in northern Virginia, and in southern California they would be a complete non-starter, in or out of pots. They wouldn't even make it through one season.

The best places to grow seaberry are Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and that is where most of them are grown in north America. Yes, One Green World will market them to anybody.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 10:44AM
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Don, thanks for your quick response. I called OGW last week and talked to a customer representative. She insisted several times they would grow just fine here in hot SoCal. Raintree also lists it as growing in Zones 3-9.
Does anyone on Gardenweb grow sea berries in warmer areas? A number of my apple trees were said not to grow here, but are doing just fine, and are now heavy with fruit.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 11:27AM
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Well, I'm warmer (on average) than the Canadian prairie provinces here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

I have grown seaberries for about 15 years with excellent success. I planted new varieties last year, removing the too-large originals. Juice from 2005 and 2006 is still in the freezer.

Your town, Altadena (near Pasadena) is quite coastal and would not be too hot for seaberries, but you might end up with foliage plants. Seaberries would likely fruit better with some winter chilling. They are native to Asia and there are not many at your latitude. They lose all leaves during winter and want to be fully dormant. SoCal may be too mild.

The newer females are compact, but the required males seem to be of the old vigorous growth habit. Keep them topped.

If you try seaberries, get more than one male, you don't want to rely on just one pollen source for fruit. Plant in poor but well-drained soil, do not use any fertilizer. Keep them watered weekly during fruit formation. Your harvest, if any, should occur before the Santa Anna wind season--I think this occurs after summer? That could suck the juice right out of the crop!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 4:25AM
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Thanks Larry Gene for such detailed information. I've ordered Sunny, Radiant, and a male pollinator, and will see how they do here in pots before trying them in a planting. All our soil here is the opposite of well drained, so most plants do better in raised beds or pots. If they don't fruit here, in a pot, I can pass them on to someone better located for them.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 6:39PM
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Just saw this old post and wanted to mention that I am in MD basically at the the border with VA and Sea berries are very happy here. I belive that this is a wrong statement that this berries are only happy in cold climates. In a way they are so happy that they want to grow huge and produce tonns of berries. The only problem for me here is that Jap. Beetles love to munch on leaves and they are hard to harvest (thorns are really mean).

    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 2:23PM
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I am interested in growing some sea-buckthorn trees for my own use. I did some research online and ended more confused with the cultivars available. I want to ask for some advice.

The characteristic I want is high nutritional content (vitamin C, carotenoids and Vitamin E).
Ease of picking, and high yield, would be nice to have but not on the top of my priorities. Being palatable without having to be cooked would be nice
I guess a deep orange color means more carotenoids.

These are the varieties I could find for sale online:

Orange Energy
Baikal Ruby
Golden Sweet
Organe DElight
Russian orange
Siberian Splendor
Star of Altai

Could anyone please indicate 3 cultivars that match the characteristics I want, especially nutritional content?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 2:32PM
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There are studies of nutrients per rhamnoides species, but I haven't seen a comparison between cultivars. Chinese species are said to have the highest nutrient levels, but most of the varieties for sale are E. European or Russian.

The nutrient levels vary considerably with climate, soil, etc, so there could be nutritional overlap among varieties as a result. Time of harvest is also a factor. There is a wiki on the Web about seaberries, try that.

All cultivars will have menacing thorns. The Buryatian varieties have a smaller growth habit.

Seaberry juice is easily obtained by using an auger-type juicer such as an Omega model. The juice does not have to be cooked, but the raw juice is as tart or tarter than lemons, and is usually sweetened. Sugar can be reduced by using stevia powder for a sweetener mixed in the sugar. The juice has to be heated only to a temperature that dissolves the sugar, much less than boiling, thereby protecting the vitamin C.

One Green World catalog states the Orange Delight has double the vitamin C of other varieties.

To your good health!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 12:35AM
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I already have one pollmix and one leikora. One Green World has an interesting variety: Askola. Their site claims that it has exceptional levels of vitamin C and E, and the fruit color is deep orange, indicating carotenoids.

I'm also interested in muscadine grapes. Jumbo seems the variety with higher levels of antioxidants.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 11:24AM
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chervil2(z5 MA)

I have seen sea berries thriving in Southern England. Also, they are a popular fruit in Ukraine which has regions like warmer parts of the USA.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 8:55PM
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can I obtain a dwarf variety of Sea Buckthorn? I have little space for a large thorny tree especially as you have to have a minimum of 2. I may be able to experiment with container growing- as they do with the Japanese art of Bonzai.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 12:10AM
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The Buryatian varieties are said to stay smaller, but are nowhere near dwarf size. I wouldn't think seaberry would be good for Bonzai.

My experience with more recently purchased male pollinator plants is that they get huge.

With heavy pruning of both plants, you may still get a little fruit.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2012 at 11:41PM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

I grow them in pots in the PDX OR area. It does take care of the invasive/aggressive problem and getting stabbed by thorns when taking care of other plants. They grow very well. They are famous as a plant that can deal with almost any freeze or heat. I have found that they need additional water to keep the fruit here. I like the berries, but I like strong flavors.
John S

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 12:09AM
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Sea Buckthorn is a shrub native to northern europe (Uk, neatherlands, northern france and along the north sea coast. Probably up and down the mountain chains in europe as well.

They are coastal plants that grow exceptionally well with salt spray (can tell you how cool they like it). They are nitrofying shrubs and are usually classified as a pioneer species (one that builds damaged and disturbed soil). They have massive, massive rootsystems that can spread out a good 50 or so feet from the main tree. They sucker as well.

They need full sun, and start to decline in shade, which is why they dont do well in even the central states (possibly the west coast and people on the east with extreme proximity to the ocean). THey are used extensively in the prairies as shelterbelts (living wind screens), as well as wildlife habitat.]

I also believe that they dont respond well to lots of pruning. Yes, one of the harvesting methods is lopping branches, but this isnt the type of cutting that pruning for size is.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 9:16AM
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I have two out of three purchased this past winter still alive and doing fine in Raleigh, NC. My garden is kind of crowded so these guys will have to be pruned to keep them from overtaking the space. We had a very hot and humid summer and they suffered a little during the worst of it but now that things have cooled off a bit they are perky again.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 9:41AM
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