Planting Guide to Blackthorn

Updated July 19, 2017

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa), also known as sloe, is a small tree or shrub native to Eurasia and North Africa. It is a common sight in Great Britain, where it is often planted in hedges. Blackthorn is classified in the Prunus genus, which also includes peaches, plums and almonds.


Blackthorn is a dense, twiggy plant covered in spines. As such, it forms an impenetrable barrier when planted as a hedge. In addition to protecting your home from unwanted visitors, blackthorn berries (commonly referred to as sloe berries) attract songbirds that nest in its branches. In the springtime, this shrub explodes with delicate white and pink flowers similar to plum blossoms.

Growing Conditions

Blackthorn is a notoriously hardy shrub. It may be planted in either sandy or clay-heavy soils and survives periods of drought that destroy other hedge plants. When planting blackthorn, however, make sure to pick a shade-free spot, as this plant adores full sun. This plant also tolerates exposure to cold. It is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5 to 9.

Planting Tips

As blackthorn grows tenaciously in poor soil, it does not require soil additives to thrive. Once established, members of the Prunus genus do not need to be pruned back, unless their limbs become damaged or diseased. The best time to plant blackthorn is in the autumn, when rains have softened the soil and the summer warmth remains.

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About the Author

Tara Cochrane has been writing nonfiction essays and articles since 1999. She worked as a writer for Cosmic Patterns Software, where she created content concerning various topics in astrology. Her work is included in the Sirius astrology software program. Cochrane earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art from Florida State University.