I am soon going to be taking hardwood cuttings of some of the Elaeagnus in my forest garden. While Elaeagnus varieties can be invasive in certain regions (of North America, for example) I find that they can be very valuable additions to polyculture planting schemes in a range of settings.
In my gradually evolving forest garden, they are useful sources of nitrogen rich biomass, and the appearance of the root systems suggest that the plants have successfully formed symbiotic relationships with Frankia bacteria and are fixing nitrogen.
I have some varieties that retain their leaves all winter, and others that are deciduous. Some are very fast growing and are pruned, chopped and dropped each year. While others are slower to grow and require less maintenance.
While these plants can produce edible fruits in some areas, I have yet to see any (though plants have flowered) – we may be too far north. Nonetheless, I find them to be very useful plants within the system. Mostly for nitrogen fixation and biomass, but also for pollinator attraction – I often see bees and other insects on the flowers.
I plan to expand the number of Elaeagnus I have in my forest garden as I work to improve new areas next year. I will be trenching the cuttings and will report back on the results. I plan to experiment a little to see whether these hardwood cuttings will take root. I don’t plan on using any rooting compound.
Experimenting with Elaeagnus varieties in my forest garden is one of the things I want to work more on moving forwards – and though at the moment I do not have much time, experimentation is important and through the successes and the failures, brings us to a better understanding of what works and what does not in our particular forest garden.