Carolina buckthorn [Rhamnus caroliniana Walt. or Frangula caroliniana (Walt.) Gray] is an attractive and water-stress-resistant shrub or small tree distributed extensively in the southeastern United States that merits use in managed landscapes. Due to substantial climatic differences within its distribution (30-year normal midwinter minima range from 13 to -8 °C), selection among provenances based on differences in cold hardiness is warranted. Before selections are marketed, the potential of carolina buckthorn to be invasive also merits investigation. Ecological problems resulting from the introduction of Rhamnus L. species in the United States, most notably the dominance of R. cathartica L. (common buckthorn) over neighboring taxa, are due in part to early budbreak. Consequently, we investigated depth of cold hardiness and vernal budbreak of carolina buckthorn and common buckthorn. Stem samples of carolina buckthorn and common buckthorn collected in midwinter survived temperatures as low as -21 and -24 °C, respectively. Although the cold hardiness of carolina buckthorns from Missouri was greater than that of carolina buckthorns from Ohio and Texas on 2 Apr. 2003, there were no differences in cold hardiness of stems from Missouri and Texas on all three assessment dates in the second experiment. All plants survived at both field locations except for the carolina buckthorns from southern Texas planted in Iowa, which showed 0% and 17% survival in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Budbreak of both species with and without mulch in Ames, Iowa, was recorded from 9 Apr. to 10 May 2002. Mean budbreak of common buckthorn was 5.7 days earlier than budbreak of carolina buckthorn, and buds of mulched carolina buckthorns broke 4.2 days earlier than did buds of unmulched carolina buckthorns. We conclude that the cold hardiness of carolina buckthorn is sufficient to permit the species to be planted outside of its natural distribution. Populations of carolina buckthorn in Ohio and Missouri should be the focus of efforts to select genotypes for use in regions with harsh winters. Phenology of its budbreak suggests carolina buckthorn will not be as invasive as common buckthorn, but evaluation of additional determinants of invasiveness is warranted.