Though native to China, Korea and Japan, autumn olive has become naturalized across all of eastern North America since its initial introduction in 1830. The silvery red berries of this large deciduous shrub are produced in profusion and eaten and spread by birds and other wildlife. Tough and fast-growing, the autumn olive was once favored as a roadside shrub because it creates fast cover and fixes atmospheric nitrogen into the soil. It has since fallen into disfavor because it is a proven invasive species that aggressively crowds out native species.
The silvery branches of autumn olive have branch spurs armed with substantially long thorns. The simple, elliptical, bright green leaves are alternate and have silvery gray scales on their undersides. Pretty, fragrant clusters of tubular, four-petaled flowers of palest yellow are produced in spring to early summer. These also have silver scales on the outside. Clusters of red, berry-like drupes are produced in fall. These also covered with a smattering of silvery scales. Birds and other wild animals relish the fruits that remain on the branches into early winter.
Elaeagnus are durable shrubs that tolerate most soils as long as they are moderately well-drained. All species fix atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, a characteristic that allows them to grow better in poorer soils. Full sun is preferred but shade is tolerated. Most silverthorns are very resistant to salt and wind as well as pests and diseases. These large shrubs generally need plenty of room to grow and may require regular pruning to keep the long branches in check. They are very informal plants best employed as hedges, wind breaks or screens. (info source: Learn2Grow.com)
Genus - Elaeagnus
Species - Umbellata
Common name - Autumn Olive
Pre-Treatment - Required
Hardiness zones - 5 - 8
Height - 12'-18' / 3.70 - 5.50 m
Spread - 8'-15' / 2.40 - 4.60 m
Plant type - Medium Shrub
Vegetation type - Deciduous
Exposure - Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade
Growth rate - Fast
Soil PH - Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil type - Clay, Loam, Sand
Water requirements - Drought Tolerant, Average Water
Landscape uses - Very informal plants best employed as hedges, wind breaks or screens.
Bloom season - Late Spring, Early Summer
Leaf / Flower color - Green, Gray Green, Silver / Light Yellow, Silver
1. Soak the seeds for 12 hours. Mix with moist sterile sand or vermiculite. Place in to a ziplock bag. Secure the envelope closed to keep the seeds inside. Place the seeds in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for 90 days. Adjust the refrigerator's temperature to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (+2-4C).
2. Remove the seeds from the refrigerator and place them on the counter until they reach room temperature.
3. Bury the seeds one-quarter of the way down in a seed-starting tray filled with starter mix. Moisten the starter soil with a water spray bottle. Move the seeds to a warm location, away from direct sunlight. Keep the starter soil moist until the seeds germinate.
4. Move the seedlings to a sunny window till as they reach 3 to 4 inches in height. Cut the weakest seedlings with scissors. Leave only the strongest seedlings or only the amount you wish to plant in the landscape. Allow the seedlings to stay indoors until the last frost, regularly ensuring that the soil is moist.
5. Transplant the seedlings outdoors in the early spring, after the last frost. Plant the seedlings in full sun, away from other shrubs and trees. It can become invasive and overcrowd nearby root systems, causing poor growth or death.
Info source: eHow.com