Rhamnus frangula ‘Fine Line’, also known as buckthorn, was introduced in 2003 and is slowly gaining the recognition it deserves. I purchased a small specimen in 2006 at an end-of-season sale and it is now a gorgeous, 6 foot tall accent in an otherwise low height area of the garden. The foliage is a lovely, ferny texture and turns a bright yellow in the fall. The flowers are insignificant; I have to really be paying attention to notice them at all in the spring. It is hardy to -50 degrees (cold zone 2) and has had no problem handling temperatures in the high 90’s during the summer (heat zone 4).
This buckthorn is not fussy about soil type, but I have it planted in good soil and, considering its origins as an invader of wetlands, I doubt it would do well in sandy, dry soil without some amendments.
OK, enough with the statistics. This has quickly become my absolute favorite shrub. I like it so much, in fact, that I bought 4 more this spring, two of which I’ve even planted! This is what I call a genuine no-maintenance plant.
|Ferny foliage of 'Fine Line'|
Disease 5 Stars
I have never had a disease affect this small tree. I’ve read reports that the wild varieties can get stem cankers from certain fungus, but I’ve not seen it on my tree.
Pests – Insects 5 Stars
Japanese beetles can be a nuisance, but rarely more.
|Japanese beetles rarely do serious damage to 'Fine Line'|
Pests – Animal 5 Stars
None, unless you count birds pooping on it.
Invasiveness 5 Stars
Many varieties of Rhamnus are invasive pests. The wild varieties produce prodigious quantities of seed and can spread rapidly through wetlands. The linked report will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the invasiveness of buckthorn.
Fortunately, the cultivated variety ‘Fine Line’ has shown no inclination towards world domination. In my garden it rarely produces more than a very few fruits and, in 5 years, I’ve seen no seedlings at all.
General Maintenance – Water 5 Stars
Watering is among my least favorite garden chores and if a plant has survived here as long as this one has, you may assume it is not a water hog. Rhamnus is no exception. I have read that its water requirements are “medium” but mine gets by on whatever Mom Nature is pleased to send.
The usual caveat applies to newly planted greenery. All baby plants require extra care till they are established.
General Maintenance – Fertilizing 5 Stars
I have never fertilized my Rhamnus tree (are you noticing a trend here? About the only things I have EVER fertilized are my roses!).
General Maintenance – Pruning/Cleaning 5 Stars
The form of this tree is vase-shaped and so far there have been no rogue branches needing correcting. I’m rather surprised as the wild varieties have a tendency to get weedy with age. As my tree is only 5 years old, I will withhold judgment until it is older. At this stage, I can say it has not required any extra care in the pruning department.