Shade tolerance of spicebush and Prunus serotina

efeuerAugust 30, 2013

Anyone know how much shade these two plants can tolerate? Can they grow as true understory plants, with no direct sun, under a deciduous canopy?

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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)

I live in central Arkansas and grow my spice bush as understory plants. The bed where they are growing is auto sprinkled for 30 minutes every other day and they do well in my area with these growing conditions. I have read they can handle sun and will grow more densely with sun; more open in dappled shade. I have one potted spice bush on my deck and it handles abt 3 hrs of sun well as long as the soil is kept moist. They sucker so that will also help contribute to the density of the planting in an understory location.


    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 8:53AM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

A spicebush liner we put in mostly shade about 18 months ago has done well. It's not growing very fast, but is healthy and already feeding caterpillars. Probably gets an hour or so of late afternoon light when Sun is low enough to reach it under the pecan canopy. It gets deep watering once a week or twice as needed when temps hang in triple digits.

This post was edited by bostedo on Sat, Aug 31, 13 at 14:11

    Bookmark   August 31, 2013 at 2:09PM
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Going to try to grow spicebush myself, although I think my spot has too much sun. Where did you get your saplings or seed stock? I get weird looks at the nurseries in NC where I'm looking for it. Black cherry though is very intolerant of shade. After a couple to a few years of vigorous growth it will start to falter if still under too much shade.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2013 at 10:27PM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

Northern spicebush (lindera benzoin) is hard to find at our local nurseries, too. However, was available from a bunch of the mail/web nurseries last time I checked. We got ours from an Arkansas nursery that sells a changing assortment of small starter/liner sized plants through an ebay store. The 10 or 12 natives we've purchased from them over the last couple seasons have all done very well.

Here is a link that might be useful: Spicebush at dogwooderitternet ebay store

    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 2:47AM
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mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)

I can also recommend dogwooderritternet as I've purchased from him many times over the years. If you purchase more than one plant on the same order, be certain to email Ron so he can adjust the shipping cost. The last time I ordered, he was charging mailing costs of .80 cents per plant following the shipping charge for first plant of an order. I'm sure there could be exceptions but all of my orders over the years have qualified for the reduced shipping costs for additional plants.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2013 at 9:25AM
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My Lindera (Spicebush) grows wild in deep shade, some of which is very swampy!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2013 at 11:08AM
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fiddlrs3(NE Illinois)

I have 4 really healthy spicebushes, one pushing 8-10' tall and 8' wide, but no drupes on any of them. Do they take years to come in, or am I so unlucky that they are all the same sex? (Same thing on 20' plus vines on 5 American Bitterweet berries!)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 8:50PM
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I have never grown spicebush first hand, but I had a conversation about it with someone at Rare Find Nursery.(In case you are not familiar with them, I will put in a plug. They are a first rate nursery specializing in native plants and rhododendron/azalea. I am fortunate to have them near me, in Ocean County New Jersey. They ship all over the country.)

Anyway, I was hoping to get sexed plants from them. That were not able to oblige, but they told me you can figure out the sex of the plant when it blooms. The males have larger, showier flowers. Have a good look at yours next spring and you will probably be able to figure out what you have. It would be disappointing to have four of the same sex, but it is not unheard of. Everyone has heard of families like that, which have four boys or four girls in a row!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 11:41PM
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