Latin Name: Caragana arborescens
Native Range: Europe and Asia
Seed Source: Seed production orchard near Indian Head Saskatchewan
Height and Spread (25 years): 6m x 3m
Overview: An introduced shrub growing to six meters high. The 'Ross' seed strain was selected for its outstanding cold and drought hardiness. First introduced to Canada in the late 1800s, it became the number one species in western Canada planted for soil erosion control. It is a legume and fixes nitrogen. The 'Ross' seed strain is named in honour of Norman MacKenzie Ross who pioneered shelterbelt tree planting in the Canadian Prairies.
Caragana is an extremely hardy and vigorous shrub that is well adapted to the prairies. This seed strain was first introduced from Russia by Mennonite settlers to Manitoba in the late 1800s. From then on it has been the widely used for shelterbelt planting across the entire prairie region.
Caragana belongs to the legume family and fixes its own nitrogen. This means it will grow equally well in low nutrient and fertile soils. Under prairie conditions and with good care, ‘Ross’ caragana can reach a height of six meters (18 feet) in about 10 years.
Caragana is meant to be used in the southern prairies where moisture and soil conditions limit the variety of shrub species that grow well. It should never be planted in or near a forest environment, once established in the forest it can spread quickly and be difficult to control or eradicate.
Fruit: Dark brown linear pods 3 to 5 cm long.
Average number of seeds/packet: 200
SEED TREATMENT / SOWING
Stratification: Soak seeds for 24 hours in water at room temperature.
Ideal sowing time: Spring
Sowing instructions: Sow 2 cm deep, 50 seeds/meter; Greenhouse - sow 3 seeds per cell.
Prior to sowing, soak the seed for about two days in fresh water at room temperature (change water once to ensure freshness). If you have access to a legume inoculant, lightly coat the seed with it prior to sowing. The inoculant will help to activate the nitrogen fixing ability of the caragana sooner.
Sow in rows the same as radish or any similar garden seed. An ordinary garden seeder will handle this seed nicely. Sow the seed at a depth of 3/4 to 1 inch, never more than 1 1/2 inches with 12 to 18 seeds to the foot. Fall sowing seed generally gives the best results when sown from October 1 to just before freeze-up. If sown in the spring, get the seed in just as early as possible, and if the soil freezes again after sowing, so much the better. Leave enough space for cultivation between the rows. The seedlings should average from 10 inches to 18 inches the first season, which is a good size for shelterbelt planting.
Growing conditions: Best growth on well-drained light and medium-textured soils. Fertilization is not required. Will tolerate slightly saline conditions.
For establishment of shelterbelts, planting of seedlings will in most cases produce the best results, they can be started from seed; providing the ground is well worked and free of weeds. Crop land can be weedy which will quickly choke out young emerging seedlings before are established. Whether started from seed or seedlings, it is necessary to keep the soil well cultivated on both sides and in the row for three or four years. This can be done quite conveniently with a small cultivator or disc. As the caragana grows, the cultivated strip will need to be widened. Never sow or plant caragana in a low spot where water may lie for even a short time in spring. The plants will likely die under wet conditions. For a caragana hedge plant 2-3 deeds 18 inches (45cm) apart ¾ to 1 inch deep in mid May.
Excellent for farm or field shelterbelts or landscape hedges where a tough hardy plant is needed. 'Ross' caragana is extremely drought tolerant that forms a dense hedge useful as a windbreak for snow and wind management.