Shepherdia: planting and care, reproduction, species, useful properties
The perennial plant Shepherdia is a sprawling shrub. It belongs to the Sucker family, and in the wild it can be met in North America. However, it is quite successfully cultivated in Europe.
This shrub is also called “soap berry”, or “buffalo berry”. Externally, shepherd and sea buckthorn look almost the same. However, the fruits of sea buckthorn are less healthy and tasty than that of shepherdia. This plant is cultivated in the open ground, while there is nothing complicated in caring for it. With minimal attention from the gardener, this shrub will delight him not only with an attractive appearance, but also with a rich harvest. If you follow the simple rules of care, then you should not have problems when growing shepherdia in your garden.
Features of Shepherdia
Shepherdia is a perennial shrub, the height of which can vary from 3 to 7 meters. Both deciduous and evergreen forms are found in nature. The surface of thin branches is covered with a rough bark of a gray-yellow hue. The shoots are highly branched along the entire length and there are long spines on their surface. Over time, the branches intertwine and lean towards the surface of the soil, as a result of which the shrub becomes more like a thorny hedge.
The stems are adorned with saturated green short-leaved, opposite-arranged oval or lanceolate foliage. The structure of the leaves is rather dense, and their length can vary from 40 to 70 millimeters. Either only on the wrong side, or on both surfaces there is a coating of silver color, which is a scaly short hairs.
The bush blooms in the last days of March, while spike-shaped inflorescences, which consist of very small axillary flowers, are formed in it. In this case, the flowers appear on the shrub earlier than the foliage. In flowering Shepherdia, the branches are densely covered with flowers, which are attached to the stems with the help of short pedicels. Note that this culture is dioecious. And this means that there are bushes only with female or only with male flowers. If you want to not only admire shepherdia, then you will have to plant at least 2 bushes: male and female. At the same time, experts advise to plant a maximum of 7 to 10 women on one male bush. Please note that male flowers open slightly later than female flowers. In order for the flowers to be pollinated, insects are needed. After pollination, small round-shaped berries form in place of the buds.
Drupe covered with red skin, on the surface of which there is a large number of whitish small dots. Berries can be eaten. The pulp has a very delicate sweet-sour tart taste. Shepherd's fruits are most often used to make jellies, jams and compotes, and they are rarely eaten fresh. Drupe seeds do not crumble from the branches to the very frosts. The berries hit by frost become much sweeter and tastier. Inside the drupe there is one flattened seed.
The bush can bloom and bear fruit only in the third or fourth year of growth. After full ripening, the berries easily crumble from the branches, so it is very easy to harvest. From one adult bush per year, you can collect about 15 kilograms of berries.
Planting and caring for shepherdia
Gardeners in shepherdia are attracted by its unpretentiousness and the ability to quickly adapt to unusual growing conditions. Any soil is suitable for its cultivation. But if your site has heavy soil, then it is better to add gravel or sand to it to improve drainage.
When choosing a site for planting, it should be borne in mind that if it is open and well lit, the plant will give a rich harvest of sweeter fruits.Any of the species of this plant is characterized by excellent winter hardiness, so the bushes do not need to be covered for the winter. Shepherdia is not harmful even drafts.
This drought-tolerant plant negatively reacts to fluid stagnation in the roots. As a rule, it does without watering, since it rains enough. However, during a long dry period, the plant is provided with moderate watering, especially if at this time the fruits begin to ripen.
In order for the bush to grow and develop within normal limits, on the site it is necessary to remove grass in a timely manner and loosen the surface of the soil. Since the root system is superficial, weeding and loosening are carried out with great accuracy.
In order to make the bush more attractive, it is systematically trimmed. So that caring for the plant does not cause difficulties, and it is convenient to pick its berries, using regular prunings, the height of the bush is limited to 200 cm.Do not forget to regularly cut extra branches, if the crown is not thinned out, then the shoots will begin to tang up and lean towards the ground.
Watch this video on YouTube
Sowing the seeds of shepherdia is carried out directly in the open ground, and they do this in the deep autumn, or rather, in November. They are buried in the ground by only 15-30 mm. In winter, the crops are thrown with a thick layer of snow. The first seedlings should appear in the second half of April. In September, the height of the grown seedlings will be 10-15 centimeters. At this time, they can be transplanted to a permanent place. A bush grown from seeds will bloom and bear fruit only 4–6 years after emergence.
Most gardeners prefer to propagate Shepherdia by cuttings, as in this case it is easy to identify a female bush in front of you or a male bush. To begin, cut green cuttings, each of which should have 2 or 3 buds, while their length can vary from 8 to 12 centimeters. For 24 hours, the cuttings are placed in a Kornevin solution, after which they are planted in a substrate consisting of peat and sand, buried in a soil mixture of 30–40 mm. In the last days of September, roots should grow in the planted segments, after which they are transplanted to a permanent place.
Department of root processes
Each year, an adult bush forms several root processes. If necessary, simply dig out the process and transplant to another place. You can transplant in March or April, and even in the first days of September.
Types of shepherdia with photo
The genus Shepherdia includes only 3 species, the description of which is given below.
Shepherd silver (Shepherdia argentea)
On young branches, as well as on both surfaces of leaf blades, there is pubescence of a whitish color. That is why the species was called shepherd silver. The height of the bush, covered with sharp thorns, can reach up to 6 meters. It blooms in the second half of April. In male bushes, small spike-shaped inflorescences are formed, and in female bushes, flowers grow solitary. Ripening of fruits is observed in September, while they turn orange-yellow or red.
Very popular among gardeners, the Goldeneye variety, characterized by its high decorativeness. The berries on this shrub after ripening turn yellow saturated.
Shepherd Canada (Shepherdia canadensis)
Outwardly, this species is similar to a small sprawling tree. The surface of the branches is covered with brown bark. The front surface of the foliage is dark green and not pubescent, and on the inside there are small scales of yellow color and silvery pubescence. Shrub blooms around the second decade of April. Its small flowers are painted yellow with a greenish tint. Ripening of elongated fruits is observed in early autumn, they reach a length of 0.4 to 0.8 cm and have a dark red hue.
Shepherdia rotundifolia (Shepherdia rotundifolia)
The species is represented by a sprawling, overgrown shrub, whose shoots are tightly intertwined with each other. The branches are densely leafy with rounded dense foliage of a dark green color. The surface of the leaves is strewn with many warty growths. The bush blooms very luxuriantly and gives a rich harvest. Under the weight of the berries, the stems bend to the ground. In the wild, this species is found almost exclusively on the Colorado Plateau.
Shepherd in landscape design
Shepherdia growing in the garden attracts attention with bright berries and leaves of a silvery hue. It looks most impressive against the background of shrubs with reddish leaf blades (for example, irga, barberry or weigela), and also next to coniferous crops. With it, you can create hedges. And to create a good background in the flower garden, use undersized varieties.
Useful properties of Shepherdia
Shepherdia contains a large amount of vitamin C in its fruits, as well as useful substances such as vitamins P, A and E, organic acids, tannins and pectin.
If you have these healthy berries, it will help to improve blood vessels, make the immune system stronger, and also bring blood pressure back to normal. Eat these wonderful fruits fresh, and they can also be used to make various sauces, preserves, tinctures and jams. Such berries can be eaten by everyone, except for people with individual intolerance. You also need to be careful and allergic.
Watch this video on YouTube