Cotoneaster, famed for its cute berries

Cotoneaster bright red berries on an arching branch with deep green leaves.

Cotoneaster is a very beautiful shrub, especially appreciated for its berries.

Core Cotoneaster facts

Family – Rosaceae
Type – shrub

Height – 1½ to 10 feet (0.5 to 3 meters)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – ordinary

Foliage – deciduous or evergreen
Flowering – May

Caring for it, from planting to pruning is very easy and the ornamental impact is guaranteed.

Planting cotoneaster

Cotoneaster is ideally planted in fall, which will favor root development. Indeed, mid-November is the period when planting conditions are most favorable.

It is possible to plant in spring specimens purchased in containers, but they will need more regular watering at the beginning.

  • Cotoneaster makes for great hedges, very ornamental.
  • Follow our good advice on planting.

Propagating cotoneaster

Cotoneaster is a shrub that is quite easily multiplied by preparing cuttings, it’s the easiest method that also yields the quickest results.

Even though preparing cuttings might seem a little difficult, it still is the very best way to propagate this shrub.

Before starting, try to get hold of rooting hormones, this will increase your chances of success.

  • Cuttings are usually prepared at the end of summer for evergreen varieties from semi-hardened wood.
  • Deciduous species cuttings are best prepared during summer on wood that is still soft.

Pruning, and caring for cotoneaster

Peach-pink colored flowers on a cotoneaster shrub.Maintenance is easy for cotoneaster, it is an easy shrub since its needs are very limited.

On par with most other plants, a timely bout of hoeing will help restrain weed growth and help the rain trickle down to the roots.

  • Cotoneaster needs water in summer, when the ground is very dry.

Pruning cotoneaster

Evergreen cotoneaster can be pruned at the beginning of spring to shape and balance the shrub to your taste.

Cotoneaster can bear pruning well and can even be pruned back severely if need be, always within this time frame of course.

For a deciduous variety, its silhouette can be remodeled by pruning just before spring growth.

Regular pruning helps keep the shrub dense, ensures nice flowers and thick foliage.

Watering cotoneaster

Cotoneaster only needs water in case of strong heat, except for the first year after planting where watering should be constant.

It is also good to water in summer especially if it’s been days since the last rainfall.

Potted cotoneaster, however, has much higher water needs, and you should water as soon as you notice the surface soil dry off.

Diseases and parasites that impact cotoneaster

Quite resistant in the face of many diseases, cotoneaster can however fall victim to fire blight; if this happens, its survival chances are very low.

Scale insects and aphids occasionally appear in summer, these are the two main cotoneaster parasites.

Learn more about cotoneaster

Autumn colors on cotoneaster makes leaves look like confetti made of fire.This shrub, most often found to be part of a hedge, a shrub bed or for ground cover, is distinctive thanks to its very ornamental red berries. Over 200 species have been accounted for to date.

This plant is also excellent for ground cover, for which the best suited variety is Cotoneaster horizontalis.

For hedges, the most appropriate variety is Cotoneaster franchetii, it can be pruned to any shape up to 6 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) tall.

Its blooming produces small white flowers that sometimes are tinted with pink, in spring, and these are a honey-bee favorite source of nectar.

At the end of summer and in fall, cotoneaster is covered in red berries which stay attached all winter long, the perfect food store for hungry birds.

In winter, its tolerance to cold temperatures down to 5°F (-15°C) and to freezing make it quite hardy.

Smart tip about cotoneaster

To save on water, evening is the best time to water potted cotoneaster. Add mineral mulch to the pot.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Cotoneaster berries and leaves by Kevin Cannings ★ under Pixabay license
Cotoneaster blooming by Andrzej Siwiec ★ under Pixabay license
Reddening cotoneaster leaves by Teodor ★ under Pixabay license