Russian Olive/Silverberry

My newly acquired silverberry(Russian Olive) has been in the green house and I’ve wrapped it in burlap and hay since temperatures have dropped into the 30s. For the last couple of weeks it has been losing its leaves. Is this normal? From everything I’ve read its a pretty hard tree and should be able to handle low temperatures. If this is not normal has the roots been damage due to cold or poor watering. Can any one advise me on this?

Thank you

You need to give scientific name since Russian Olive and Silverberry are two different plants.

Silverberry - Elaeagnus Pungens
Russian Olive - Elaeagnus Angustifolia


Eleagnus pungens is commonly sold as “Russian Olive” where I live.

I only own pungens, but I have been assuming the care is similar to the angustifolia. Do they have many differences in temperament?

From my understanding it’s a silverberry. At this point it has lost all its leaves. I have to assume it’s has some root damage and will experience die back and I might lose the tree.

Russian olive around here (eastern US) refers specifically to Elaeagnus angustifolia. It is a very hardy and invasive species that is taking over large tracts of land (including my back fields). There is a similar species often called autumn olive which is Elaeagnus umbellata. Both are types of “silverberry”. I have a potted one which I keep with my other hardy trees, it is exposed to temps well down into the 20s (F) and is fine with that. Could probably handle even colder than that when potted. Both of these are deciduous and will drop all leaves in winter.

Other “silverberries” aren’t as hardy. For instance, one of the more common varieties used for bonsai is Elaeagnus pungens. I have one of those and I keep it in a warmer location during winter, it does get some freezing temps but not much lower than the upper 20s and not for long periods. I don’t know the exact cold tolerance but am not interested in testing its limits! This is more of an evergreen species.

These can be tough to tell apart but if you were to put E. pungens next to the others I think it would be obvious. One difference is E. pungens blooms in the fall and the other two are spring bloomers, though flowers are similar.

Don’t know if that helps or not. Do you have any pics of the leaves, flowers or fruit of yours?

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Yea some twiggy branchs might die but it won’t matter. If it is indeed the invasive Russian olive, e. angustifolia, you will have a difficult time killing it. I have one that has been in a pot for probably 15+ years and takes all kinds of Winter abuse (it stays in a north facing area all Colorado winter long) and grows back so vigorously in the summer I can’t keep any kind of shape to it. I’m still learning how to tame the bastard, Im going to try minimal fertilizer this spring. Your bigger problem will be making good ramifications ect…

Thank you for the reply. It came back no problem will try to do a light pruning on it later when the leaves harden. There are a lot of branches to choose from. It seems to be a very fast grower.

Have a great spring!