Firethorn, aside from its superb foliage, also bears magnificent colored berries in fall.
A few Firethorn facts
Name – Pyracantha
Family – Rosaceae
Type – shrub
Height – 6 to 13 feet (2 to 4 meters)
Exposure – full sun, part sun
Soil – ordinary
Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – May to June
It’s all the same whether firethorn is planted in spring or fall, even though planting in November is best.
Firethorn is not demanding as for soil type, but will develop best in well drained soil.
- Firethorn does well in sun-filled or partly shaded locations.
- Upon planting, mix garden soil with planting soil mix.
- Water regularly over the 1st year after planting.
- To set up a hedge with firethorn, space each plant 3 feet (1 meter) from the next.
- Follow our advice on planting shrubs.
Making cuttings in summer is the easiest and fastest option for propagating Pyracantha.
- Collect your 6-inch (15 cm) cuttings at the end of summer on semi-hardened wood.
- Remove lower leaves, leaving only the topmost ones.
- It is possible to dip the cuttings in powdered rooting agents.
- Plant the cutting in special cutting soil mix.
- Put the cuttings near light, but not in direct sunlight, and keep the substrate a little moist.
- Before winter comes, store your cuttings in a luminous, cool room that doesn’t freeze.
Pruning and caring for firethorn
Very hardy to the cold and freezing, resilient after sweltering heat, firethorn is a shrub that only needs little care, especially after it has properly settled in.
Firethorn, or Pyracantha, can be pruned in fall and/or at the beginning of spring, moderately.
- Prune lightly after the blooming to trigger branching out, which will make your Pyracantha more dense.
- Severe pruning might weaken your Pyracantha, especially against fire blight.
- If for some reason you must drastically prune your Pyracantha, best do it at the end of winter.
- Pyracantha blooms on stems grown during the previous year, so severe pruning would compromise the following year’s blooming.
Diseases and parasites that attack firethorn
The main difficulty you’ll face with firethorn is fire blight. Leaves turn brown, dry off and die within a few months.
- Nothing can be done about it, except for destroying your tree, burning it so that it won’t contaminate others.
- Luckily, some firethorn or Pyracantha cultivars have developed a resistance to fire blight.
As for parasites, it may attract legions of aphids and here is how to deal with aphids.
Learn more about Pyracantha, Firethorn
Particularly well suited to setting up hedges, firethorn both offers interesting spring blooming and beautiful colored berries in the other seasons.
- Growing it is quite easy and it seldom requires attention.
A thorny shrub belonging to the Rosaceae family, a further advantage is its rapid growth and its deep dark green evergreen leaves.
Fall is when it is most remarkable, as it bears little ornamental red or orange-yellow berries.
Its blooming, in spring, is low-key, cute white flowers that appear during the month of May or June, depending on the area.
- Select the ‘Coccinea’ variety for red berries and the ‘Golden’ for yellow berries.
Are firethorn berries poisonous?
Berries aren’t toxic to humans, contrary to popular belief. Some even include the berries in jams, too.
As with many edible wild berries, though, eating significant amounts (a bowlful or more) can lead to an upset stomach (light diarrhea).
Research has shown that tiny, minute amounts of cyanide-related compounds exist in fruits. Luckily, the quantities are so small that these won’t have any impact whatsoever on either humans or pets.
Smart tip about firethorn
Since it is thorny, it is perfect for defensive hedges.
Firethorn on social media
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Firethorn in fall by Manfred Richter under Pixabay license
Firethorn berries by Manfred Richter under Pixabay license
Firethorn blooming by Andreas ★ under Public Domain
Wall of firethorn berries by Bishnu Sarangi under Pixabay license
Berries with shiny leaves (also on social media) by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Red berries like a bunch of grapes (also on social media) by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Firethorn berries are not poisonous. My parents had them and I ate them as a child. They have a mild, but pithy apple taste with more seeds than fruit. The fruit is grainy. My siblings and I never experienced any tummy troubles or other adverse effects. At first my mother was concerned and asked our doctor. He looked it up right then and assured her we would be fine.
Hi Millie, thanks a lot for your comment, I went back and changed the article after completing a little more research. As I was a child, I was taught to steer clear of the appealing red berries – I think in people’s minds it’s to help children avoid nibbling other red berries that are more dangerous, like holly berries which also has pricks everywhere, or yew.