A pyracantha shrub is ideal for summer and winter gardens. The pyracantha shrub also known as ‘Firethorn’ has showy berries that are present, even into the winter months. Pyracantha, especially pyracantha berries, are often used in flower arrangements along with other dried materials.
The ‘Scarlet Firethorn’, Pyracantha coccinea is an evergreen with stiff, thorny branches and an open spreading growth habit. The leaves are dark green in summer months, and will remain green in mild climates but will turn brownish in winter in harsher climates.
White flowers will appear in spring on last year’s growth. They are showy because of their numbers. The berrylike, round 1/4” fruits are orange-red, and ripen in September and persisting into winter.
Scarlet firethorn is often used as an informal hedge or a barrier plant. It adapts well to espalier on walls and fences. It prefers deep, moist, humus-rich, well-drained soil. Pyracantha do well where the soil is dry in summer.
Full sun produces the best fruiting, but plants will grow in part shade. It adapts to a wide range of soil pH. Cold temperatures can damage leaves. You will find that some varieties are hardier than others. Pyracantha can also be grown in containers on a deck or patio, or where you have limited space in the garden. They are also great to use when you want to attract wildlife to your yard and garden.
Care of Pyracantha Shrubs
Pyracantha should be given about 1” of water a week until they are established. Keep older plants on the dry side. Young shrubs benefit from a spring application of plant food, such as Miracle-Gro.
Pruning may be needed regularly to keep it in shape or from spreading too much. Be sure to wear heavy gloves to protect your hands from the spines. Many people like to use pyracantha shrubs as a bonsai specimen.
Propagation of Pyracantha Shrubs
If you want to plant seeds, you should stratify them for 90 days at 41 degrees F. Softwood cuttings will root when a mist is provided.
Pests and Diseases of Pyracantha Shrubs
Fire blight can be a serious problem when it comes to pyracantha. Avoid over fertilization, which can promote succulent growth that is subject to fire blight.
Plant only disease-resistant cultivars. Scab can also be a problem. It will turn the fruit a dark sooty color. Other problems include twig blight, leaf blight, root rot, aphids, lace bugs, and scale.
Other species include: ‘Aurea’ which has a yellow fruit, and ‘Lalandei’ which is somewhat hardier. ‘Mohave’ has an upright growth and is resistant to scab and fire blight.
Topiaries and Espaliers: Plus Other Designs for Shaping Plants (Taylor's Weekend Gardening Guides (Houghton Mifflin))