The sloe or better the blackthorn is not only an ornamental shrub, it also bears delicious fruit. Here you can find out what to look out for when caring for your child.© ihorhvozdetskiy - Fotolia.com Loans (Prunus spinosa) are among the stone fruit plants and are native to all of Europe. The rose family is considered the root form of the house plum. The blackthorn is a popular wind and sight protection, especially in large natural gardens. The hedge mandrel is also ideally suited for slope mounting. What needs to be taken into account when taking care of the robust deciduous plants can be read below.
Sloe - small plant description
Sloes grow as dense shrubs or small, often multi-stem trees. The plants do not grow taller than three meters and can reach an age of around 40 years. The blackthorn is the most bizarre in its natural state. Due to winds and game bites - especially near the coast - unusual cripple forms can arise.
The flat root has a dark bark, which can tear down in older plants. The rounded to angular branches have several short shoots. The leaves grow on slightly hairy stems and are obovate. Fine toothing can be seen on the leaf edges. After the buds have sprouted, the underside is covered with downy hair. Over time, they go bald.
When does the blackthorn bloom?
The white flowers of the sloe appear in March. This means that the crop blooms for some time before the first leaves appear. Here a clear demarcation from the hawthorn becomes clear. This forms its leaves before flowering. The white bell flowers have a scent reminiscent of almonds. The spherical, blue-black fruits can reach a diameter of up to 18 millimeters. The fruits ripen around October and remain on the bush over the winter.
➔ Tip: The flesh of the sloe fruits is initially sour and tart and not very tasty. It only develops more taste when exposed to frost.
Origin and spread of the sloe
The blackthorn has a wide distribution area, which extends across Europe, the Near East, North America and New Zealand. The hedge plants are often found in the company of wild roses, hawthorn or juniper. The plants occur on forest edges or rocky slopes at altitudes of up to 1,600 meters.
Rule number 1 - the sloe needs space
If you do not inform yourself about the requirements of the plant in advance, you will be faced with many problems with care. Sloes grow slowly in height, but they spread widely. So you have to give the plants a lot of space in the garden. It is also important to have suitable work clothing when carrying out maintenance on the blackthorn. The pointed thorns can cause injuries.
You can stop the plant from spreading with the help of a root barrier. Corresponding geotextile is commercially available for this purpose. You can also help yourself with a stable concrete ring.
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Even with the right planting, something can be done about the uncontrolled spreading of the sloe. Wild roses, hawthorn or yew trees not only look decorative, they can also take on the sluggish root system that grows well.
Pour the sloe properly
The sloe is generally classified as easy to care for. The plants also tolerate prolonged drought. If the summers are not particularly hot and dry, the plants hardly need watering. The rainwater is then completely sufficient. If the plant is too wet in the long run, the roots are attacked and the sloe can be damaged.
The plants only need regular watering immediately after planting. Water abundantly in the first few weeks so that the roots can grow well.
Fertilize blackthorn - yes or no?
Even fertilizers are hardly necessary. Compost can be added to the substrate during planting. Then the plant receives a slow release fertilizer that it can use at any time without the risk of over-fertilization. In addition to compost, horn chips can also be added to the substrate. Organic fertilizer can be given in spring in the following years. In the case of particularly poor soils, you can give another fertilizer in early summer.
➔ Tip: If you want to eat the fruits, you should not use mineral fertilizers. Nettle stock or comfrey stock can be used for general plant strengthening.
Help, my sloe is not growing
There is usually no maintenance error here, because the sloes grow extremely slowly. They only grow 20 centimeters a year. Overall, the shrubs rarely reach a height of more than three meters. What the sloe may lack in visible growth, it more than compensates underground. The flat roots can be up to ten meters long and spread extremely if this is not counteracted by the establishment of a root barrier.
Do sloes have to be cut?
Sloes do not necessarily have to be trimmed. Lovers of natural gardens may even say that sloe bushes simply look better when uncut. If the thick undergrowth literally grows over your head, you can of course use scissors.
Cutting measures should be carried out after the flowering period. The sloe also tolerates a strong cut back. If the sloe is to be planted as a hedge, pruning will be necessary to achieve the desired shape. When cutting back, you can also remove the roots.
➔ Tip: A radical cut is best tolerated in late winter. The end of flowering is the right time for topiary.
You can also cut the sloe back down to the stick if necessary. If an eye is left on the shoot, the plant will reliably sprout again. Sharp and clean tools should be used for the cutting measures. The plants are not harmed and the wounds heal without complications.
Harvest sloe fruits© TwilightArtPictures - Fotolia.com In late summer, the blue-black drupes of the sloe begin to ripen. The hobby gardener should, however, hold back from harvesting. The flesh is tart and sour and therefore not very tasty. The sloe fruits need the cold to develop their taste.
➔ Tip: The first frosts convert the starch contained in the berries into sugar, making the sloe fruits more tasty.
The ripe fruit can be picked individually from the branches. Store the blackthorn in a basket instead of an airtight plastic bag. So that you don't injure yourself on the thorns, we recommend harvesting the fruits with gloves and long-sleeved clothing.
➔ Tip: If you don't want to harvest in winter, you can pick the berries in late summer and freeze them for a few days to develop the taste.
Hibernate the sloe
Sloes hibernate very well in our latitudes and do not require any protective measures. The early flowering of the plants could be a problem. If late frost occurs during this time, the flowers are at risk. If there are cold nights in the house, you should cover the flowers with fleece or a jute sack.