Cotoneaster Plant-Information and Tips

The Cotoneaster plant is a woody plant that belongs to the Rosaceae family. Most of the varieties of cotoneaster that we are familiar with are shrubs. Some species are hardy, but most cotoneasters are more adaptable and more beautiful if grown in the milder regions of the country. Find facts and information on growing cotoneaster and some of the most common varieties.

There are many varieties of the cotoneaster plant available. They can be either deciduous (leaf-losing), or evergreen. They are valued mostly for their fruits, though some have attractive white flowers that resemble spirea blossoms. The types deciduous types are actually more hardy to the northern states, while the evergreen types are more suitable for southern gardens.


Cotoneaster used as shrub border

Propagation of Cotoneaster

Propagation is done by taking cuttings or planting seeds. The should be sown in late autumn in a cold frame or greenhouse in pots of sandy soil. Cuttings 4 to 6 inches long are made from shoots of the current year’s growth. They may be grown in the greenhouse or in a sheltered location outdoors if winters are mild.

The Cotoneaster is easily grown and will thrive in almost any kind of soil, even in poor soil where other shrubs would find difficult to become established. It would be to your advantage to add some organic matter or decayed manure to the soil. The cotoneaster plant is a low maintenance plant that requires very effort on the part of the gardener.

Cotoneaster plants will vary in height from a few inches to many feet tall. This is, of course, dependent on the variety that you choose. For this reason, their uses in the garden are many and varied, some being ideal for the shrubbery border, others excellent plants for using in a rock garden or gravel , and still others are good specimen shrubs. Some are useful as hedges or naturalized in the open woodland.

The most popular varieties are the ones that are low growing types that have glossy green leaves that are followed by pale pink flowers and later will give the gardener an eye full of colorful red or orange berries. Some plants will keep their berries for a very long time. For this reason alone, they are great to have in the garden. Gardeners are always looking for plants, such as these, that will add to the beauty of the garden throughout all the changing seasons.

"Cotoneaster Shrub"

Some Cotoneasters have colorful berries

Pruning Cotoneaster Plants
Pruning cotoneasters is not a great problem since they require very little. With the deciduous types, just thin any crowded branches or shorten those that have grown to long. Do this in late fall or during the winter. The evergreen types should be pruned about the middle of April.

Cotoneasters can be planted in fall or spring. Small potted plants are the most successful. They will have flowers from spring until summer and will have fruit once they have reached maturity. Each variety will have different growing habits and performances. If you buy shrubs from a nursery be sure to read and follow planting instructions that are usually given on the label.

The cotoneaster plant is a favorite plant of birds and wildlife. Bees and butterflies are are attracted to the flowers and the birds love the berries that form on the shrubs. Deer, however, do not like the cotoneasters so that is another plus for them.

TIP-Cotoneasters, as well as many other berry bearing plants, are great for cutting and placing in flower arrangements and decorative wreaths. The Cotoneaster plant makes an excellent Bonsai specimen plant.

Varieties of the Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster dammeri grows 2 ft.tall and up to 6 ft.wide. It has an irregular growth habit, and has red pome berries .25 in diameter. It is a good groundcover plant and makes a good espalier. Check out “Coral Beauty”.

Cotoneaster horizontallis only grows 2 to 3 ft. tall, but 15 ft. wide. It has stiff horizontal branches with bright green leaves that turn orange and red before they fall. This is a short period of time. Then comes the red berries. Plant where it will have plenty of room to grow, as they looked deformed if you try to cut parts of them off.

Cotoneaster apiculatus, cranberry cotoneaster, is a good variety for colder areas and grows 3 ft. Tall and 6 ft. Wide. Does good as a background plant, bank cover, or a hedge.

Cotoneaster acutifolius, Peking cotoneaster, grows 10 ft. wide and 10 ft. tall. This variety has black berries and has foliage that turns deep red in the fall. This does good as a hedge or screening plant.

Cotoneaster divaricatus grows 6 ft. tall and wide, has dark green leaves and egg-shaped berries. This one does good as a hedge or screening plant. A spreading cotoneaster shrubs that makes an excellent hedge or a specimen shrub. It has a spreads out making a nice horizontal pattern.

TIP-There are a few, and only a few, varieties that get very straggly and will need to be kept pruned back. Many people have said that some cotoneasters are hard to get rid of, and may even take over other shrubs. This does not pertain to all varieties. Ask your nurseryman or read labels to see what the growth habit of that variety will be.

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