At first glance, it would seem bushes with stickers should not be a part of the landscape plan, especially if you have children. But sound reasons exist for choosing these plants, including the fact that deer and other wildlife will not mistake them for lunch. Not only that, if used as a hedge, sticker bushes will dissuade wildlife and other animals from even entering the yard. When planted by a bedroom window, sticker bushes help keep the bad guys out -- and the wild child in!
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Roses (Rosa spp.) thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 9. Many varieties of rose bushes have stickers or thorns. Their height when full grown ranges from 8 inches to 50 feet. Hybrid rose bushes are usually 4 to 6 feet tall, and climbing roses from 8 to 15 feet tall. They reach their full height within a few years of being planted, but some only live for six to 10 years while others live for 50 years or more. Roses need to be protected from harsh weather, disease and mildew. They should be planted in a sunny spot with rich organic soil and not planted too close to other plants. Clemson University Extension Service recommends planting roses in a mixture of organic material such as peat moss or well-rotted manure and soil, using 1 part organic material to 4 parts of soil. They need to be fed with rose fertilizer according to the directions on the package, watered thoroughly and mulched. Roses can be high-maintenance, but they can also make a beautiful boundary.
The barberry is a lower-maintenance sticker bush that provides considerable interest to the garden. Several varieties produce colorful berries in the winter, and their sharp thorns make them a formidable hedge plant. Barberries grow from 3 to 10 feet tall, depending on the variety. They grow in sun or partial shade, do not need a rich soil and can survive droughts. The wintergreen barberry (Berberis julianae) is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9A. Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), hardy in USDA zones 4 to 9, is often used in landscaping. Its bright green foliage turns orange, red or purplish in the fall, and its red berries provide winter color. Both wintergreen and Japanese barberries are considered invasive, but the Japanese also has another problem. According to the State of Connecticut website, forests with invasive Japanese barberries are prone to infestation by blacklegged ticks, which are associated with Lyme's disease and other illnesses.
Several types of fruit bushes don't just produce tasty berries -- they're full of thorns. Gooseberries, blackberries and raspberries grow on sticker bushes. Gooseberries (Ribes uva-crispa) are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8, depending on the variety. They generally grow to be 6 feet tall, and need partial shade with morning sun and well-drained soil. Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus) are hardy in zones 3 to 10, depending on the variety. Some have thorns, while others do not. Red raspberries (Rubus idaeus) are hardy in zones 2 to 9, depending on the variety. Berries do require some upkeep, including regular watering, pruning and mulching.
Good Golly Miss Holly
Holly (Ilex) grows in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9, depending on the variety. It is a low-maintenance plant that grows in well-drained soil in sun or partial shade, needs little pruning, and is not bothered by disease or pests. It ranges in size from 2 to 20 feet tall, depending on the type. Many varieties have thorns or spikes, but some do not. Hollies are often associated with Christmas because some varieties have glossy green leaves and bright red berries. Some types of holly are invasive.