Fern Leaf Buckthorn Landscaping Tips


Tips & Tricks



September 17, 2023

Fern Leaf Buckthorn Landscaping Tips

Introduction To Fern Leaf Buckthorn

Landscaping can truly transform your home's exterior, breathing life into every corner with colors, textures, and shapes. However, the crux of an aesthetically pleasing and sustainable landscape lies in choosing the right plants. Among the plethora of options available, one plant that often goes unnoticed but offers immense potential is the Fern Leaf Buckthorn. Whether you are a gardening novice or a seasoned horticulturist, this article aims to provide you an in-depth understanding of this wonderful plant. Not only that, but you'll also learn effective ways to incorporate it into your landscaping plans.

Understanding Fern Leaf Buckthorn

What is Fern Leaf Buckthorn?

The Fern Leaf Buckthorn, scientifically known as Rhamnus alnifolia, is a versatile and aesthetically pleasing deciduous shrub that brings unique beauty to any landscape. Growing up to 3-4 feet in height, it's characterized by its distinctive, finely divided, fern-like foliage that gracefully moves in the wind. Come summer, the plant bursts into clusters of small, inconspicuous green flowers that eventually mature into small green berries, transitioning to red and finally dark purple as the season progresses.

Origins of Fern Leaf Buckthorn

Native to North America, Fern Leaf Buckthorn has evolved to thrive in the region's diverse climates, from the cold areas of USDA hardiness zones 3 and 4 to the warmer regions of zone 7. Over time, it has adapted to a range of light and soil conditions, making it a good fit for the unpredictable climate of the Rocky Mountains.

Benefits of Using Fern Leaf Buckthorn in Landscaping

Aesthetic Appeal

Fern Leaf Buckthorn’s compact and dense nature gives it a neat, well-rounded appearance. The delicate, fern-like leaves provide an interesting texture, while the small berries add pops of color throughout the growing season. This combination creates a picturesque display that can heighten the aesthetic appeal of your garden.

Ecological Benefits

Beyond its ornamental value, Fern Leaf Buckthorn offers substantial ecological benefits. The flowers provide nectar for various beneficial insects, while the berries are a favored food source for birds, thus attracting a delightful array of wildlife into your garden. The dense growth habit also offers shelter to these creatures, promoting ecological balance and biodiversity in your backyard.

How to Plant Fern Leaf Buckthorn

a young fern leaf buckthorn

Choosing the Right Location

When it comes to location, Fern Leaf Buckthorn is quite accommodating. It can thrive in full sun, basking in six or more hours of sunlight a day. However, it can also tolerate partial shade conditions, making it a versatile choice for various spots in your garden. Moreover, its sturdy nature allows it to withstand windy conditions, providing you with more flexibility in planting.

Soil Requirements

While it has a preference for well-drained, fertile soil, Fern Leaf Buckthorn can tolerate both sandy and clay soils. This adaptability reduces the need for soil amendments, making it easier for you to plant and establish Fern Leaf Buckthorn in your garden.

Watering and Feeding Needs

As a hardy plant, Fern Leaf Buckthorn requires moderate watering. It needs a good soak during its establishment phase, but once it's fully established, it can withstand periods of drought. This makes it a great choice for xeriscaping or low-water gardens. As for feeding, applying a slow-release, balanced fertilizer in early spring can give it a boost, aiding its growth and ensuring a lush display of leaves and a generous production of berries.

Maintenance and Care Tips for Fern Leaf Buckthorn


Regular pruning can keep your Fern Leaf Buckthorn looking its best. It's advisable to prune in late winter or early spring to maintain its shape and encourage vigorous new growth. During pruning, make sure to remove any dead or diseased branches to keep the plant healthy.

Pest and Disease Management

One of the merits of opting for Fern Leaf Buckthorn is its relative freedom from serious pests and diseases. However, just like any other plant, occasional monitoring for common garden pests is advisable to ensure it stays healthy. Implementing an integrated pest management approach involving cultural, biological, and chemical control methods can help keep potential problems at bay.

Fern Leaf Buckthorn Landscaping Ideas

Incorporating Fern Leaf Buckthorn in Garden Designs

Thanks to its compact size and attractive appearance, Fern Leaf Buckthorn can play multiple roles in your garden design. Use it as a low border plant along pathways or driveways, or plant it en masse to form a dense, informal hedge. You can also use it as a standalone specimen plant, creating a focal point in your landscape that's pleasing to the eye all year round.

Pairing with Other Plants

This plant pairs beautifully with native grasses, flowering shrubs, and perennials. Consider combining it with plants that offer contrasting foliage color or texture to create an appealing visual interplay. For instance, pairing the delicate fern-like leaves of the buckthorn with the bold foliage of hostas or the fine texture of ornamental grasses can result in a stunning landscape design.


As we've delved deeper into understanding the Fern Leaf Buckthorn, it's clear that this plant offers unique benefits for landscaping. Its combination of ornamental beauty, ecological value, and easy maintenance makes it a valuable addition to any garden. 

FAQs About Fern Leaf Buckthorn

1. How tall does Fern Leaf Buckthorn grow?

Fern Leaf Buckthorn typically grows 3-4 feet tall.

2. What are the water requirements for Fern Leaf Buckthorn?

Fern Leaf Buckthorn requires regular watering during establishment but can tolerate drought conditions once fully established.

3. When should I prune my Fern Leaf Buckthorn?

Pruning is best done in late winter or early spring.

4. Can Fern Leaf Buckthorn grow in shade?

While Fern Leaf Buckthorn prefers full sun, it can tolerate partial shade.