In most cases, the location decides whether the alder buckthorn develops into a branched shrub up to 3 meters high or a tree up to 8 meters high. One of its outstanding properties is the wet tolerance of its roots, which solves many a design problem. What does it matter that its bark gives off a slightly foul smell? This fact is the same for the countless birds, bees and butterflies, because they enjoy the blossoms in May and June and the small berries in autumn. Anyone who studies the requirements for caring for the plant will find that the Frangula alnus is definitely suitable for beginners.

location and potting soil

In principle, the alder buckthorn is suitable for any garden soil, with the exception of barren, rocky areas. The buckthorn plant, on the other hand, appreciates a sufficient dose of sunlight so that the yellowish-white flowers appear in droves in spring, followed by countless red-black berries that all birds are crazy about.

  • Sunny to partially shaded position.
  • Ordinary garden soil, preferably moist and wet.
  • Commercial potting soil is sufficient as a substrate for dwarf varieties in tubs.

Anyone who comes across a shrub called powderwood during a tour of the garden center is also standing in front of the alder buckthorn. Because the bark of the plant can be easily processed into charcoal, which in turn is a component of gunpowder, the deciduous tree is often called that.

watering and fertilizing

The buckthorn is a thirsty fellow. If he is not near the shore of a body of water or a constantly wet soil, the informed hobby gardener will often reach for the watering can. If the powdered wood is cultivated as a container plant, this can be the case every day in summer.

  • Keep the soil constantly moist to wet.
  • Water daily in summer if necessary.
  • Bark mulch, leaves and grass clippings keep the soil moist.
  • Start the season with a complete fertilizer in spring.
  • Then regularly work in garden compost.

Although the Frangula alnus likes to stretch out its roots in wet soil, it avoids waterlogging. For the hobby gardener, this means that he waters the deciduous trees well; if, on the other hand, puddles form that remain, it was too much of a good thing and the watering quantity is reduced.

To cut

To ensure that the ornamental shrub retains its shape and does not become bare from the inside or below, the experienced hobby gardener treats it to a maintenance cut in early spring. It is advisable to choose a frost-free, slightly overcast day for this work, because the intense sunlight could damage the fresh cuts, even if the alder buckthorn is not yet fully sap.

  • All dead, withered shoots are removed at the base.
  • Cut off inward or criss-crossing branches.
  • Old branches with dark wood give way in favor of young, fresh shoots.
  • The incision is always made slightly obliquely 3-5 mm above an outward-facing eye.
  • If the twig is completely removed, the astring must not be damaged.
  • Larger cuts are then smoothed out with a sharp knife.

Pruning for maintenance and care is successful when the Frangula alnus presents the desired silhouette and all regions of the plant receive light, air and sun.

If maintenance pruning is missed for several years in a row, the alder buckthorn not only loses its shape, but also begins to die off by aging from the inside out. In this case, a makeover cut could still be the last resort. As part of this pruning method, the entire shrub is cut down to 20 cm, maximum 30 cm, above the ground. With a bit of luck, it will sprout again from next year and can be rebuilt in the following vegetation periods.


Garden lovers who want more specimens of the alder buckthorn are not forced to dig into their pockets because the propagation is very easy by their own hands. There are several methods to choose from.


  • Choose a young, flexible outer shoot during the summer.
  • Pull it to the ground and mark the spot.
  • Loosen the soil with a rake, incorporating some compost.
  • Defoliate and very lightly score the sinker where it touches the ground.
  • Cover this part with soil, leaving 15 cm of the shoot tip visible.

So that the sinker of the alder buckthorn does not immediately shoot up again, it is weighted down with stones or fixed with wire, tent pegs or staples. So that the tip of the shoot points vertically to the sky, it is attached to a wooden stick. The hobby gardener keeps the offspring constantly moist until next spring while a new root system forms. By gently pulling it can be determined when the sinker is ready to be separated from the mother plant. It is then planted in its new location and cared for like an adult specimen.


As part of the annual care cut, the hobby gardener automatically receives plenty of material to cut sticks for propagation. Unlike the typical cuttings, cuttings come from the middle of a one to two year old shoot, are 15 cm to 20 cm long and have at least 2 to 3 well-developed leaf nodes. It is of essential importance for this form of propagation that it can be seen exactly which side of the shoot is pointing towards the trunk, because this will be planted later. Therefore, this end is slightly chamfered, while the tip is cut straight. The sticks can now optionally be put into the ground at their new location in the bed. On the other hand, if you want to be on the safe side, you can first put the sticks in the greenhouse or in the house until next spring,

  • Fill a pot with potting soil.
  • Insert a third or half of the stick.
  • Keep permanently slightly moist in a bright window seat that is not in full sun.

The process of rooting is accelerated when a perforated transparent bag is slipped over the cultivation vessel. This should be aired every few days to prevent mold from forming.

Tip: Inventive hobby gardeners have discovered that the new root system develops much faster if a thin layer of garden compost is filled into the pot under the potting soil.

Thanks to the berries, propagation by sowing would theoretically be possible. In comparison to sinkers and sticks, this technique is extremely complex and time-consuming.


The self-propagated or already bought alder buckthorn can be planted within a short time without much fuss. In the container, the ornamental tree can be planted in the ground all year round. As a bare-root specimen, the planting time is limited to mid-October to the end of November.

  • Fall and spring are good planting times.
  • Loosen the soil at the selected location, remove weeds, roots and stones.
  • Place the root ball or bare roots in a bucket of water.
  • In the meantime, dig a planting hole.
  • Mix the excavation in the wheelbarrow with garden compost and horn shavings.
  • Cut the bare roots and the shoots by 1/3 and put them in the hole.
  • Slightly scratch the compacted root ball (maximum 0.5 cm) after untamping.
  • Plant the alder buckthorn, compacting the soil well.
  • Finally, water generously and provide a thick layer of mulch.

In wind-exposed locations, it is advisable to give the powdered wood more stability with a support post. The binding material should be shaped in such a way that it cannot grow into the bark, such as a wide bast ribbon or a thick coir rope. The post can be removed from the second year at the latest.


The alder buckthorn is one of the hardy deciduous trees. It sheds its foliage in late autumn after a spectacular yellow foliage coloration that stands in striking contrast to the red-black berries. The plant generally does not receive winter protection. It only makes sense to protect the Frangula alnus from frost in the year of planting.

  • Cover the tree disc thickly with leaves, straw or twigs up to the trunk.
  • Put a jute sack over the still young shoots or wrap them with fleece.

Hobby gardeners who cultivate powdered wood in buckets give the wood annual protection during the cold season so that the root ball does not freeze through. To do this, place the planter on an insulating block of wood or polystyrene and wrap it with foil, jute, raffia or fleece. In addition, a thick layer of mulch is also piled up here.

Beautiful varieties

Since the alder buckthorn scores with numerous advantages, successful breeders have been busy developing various hybrids, which in turn convince with individual attributes.

Säulen-Faulbaum ‚Fine Line‘ (Frangula alnus Fine Line)

  • upright growth up to 200 cm in height
  • particularly large flowers
  • pale green, lanceolate foliage

Farnblättriger Faulbaum (Frangula alnus Asplenifolia)

  • loose habit up to 250 cm growth height
  • dark green, deeply dissected leaves
  • ideal for the Japanese garden

Faulbaum ‚Minaret‘ (Frangula alnus Minaret)

  • taut, upright silhouette up to 300 cm high
  • umbel-like white flowers
  • Very beautiful in tubs and as a solitary plant

Since all parts of the alder buckthorn are classified as poisonous, the tree should not be planted within the reach of children.

diseases and pests

In the right location, with adequate care, the alder buckthorn develops into a healthy, vital and therefore largely resistant deciduous tree. However, it is not completely safe from infection by fungal diseases or infestation by pests. For example, Insekt has specialized in powdered wood:

The Faulbaum Spider Moth (Yponomeuta plumbella)
This is a butterfly with a wingspan of up to 20 mm. It is white with black dots, which differs from the other spider moths in that it has a particularly large black dot in the middle. The caterpillars are ocher yellow and also dotted with black. It is the caterpillars in particular that cover the alder buckthorn with their webs from June to August and suck the life out of it. If the branches are cut out at an early stage of the infestation, this measure can already put an end to the plague. Otherwise, it is recommended to consult the database of the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection and Food Safety. All insecticides currently permitted for the home garden that put an end to the alder buckthorn spider moth are listed there.

If there are corners in the garden where nothing wants to thrive because the soil there is very damp and wet, then the alder buckthorn comes into play. The shrub-like deciduous tree feels at home in almost any location, shows beautiful flowers from May and attracts flocks of birds in autumn with its red-black berries. The Frangula alnus, also known as powder wood, is hardy and undemanding. However, it should be avoided in the reach of children because it is poisonous.

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