Firethorn, superb in fall

Firethorn, pyrcantha

Firethorn, a shrub with superb foliage, also bears magnificent colored berries in fall.

A few Firethorn facts

Family – Rosaceae
Type – shrub

Height – 6 to 13 feet (2 to 4 meters)
Exposure – full sun, part sun

Soil: ordinary  –  Foliage: evergreen  –  Flowering: end of spring, early summer

Planting Firethorn

It’s all the same whether firethorn is planted in spring or fall, even though planting in November is best.

Firethorn plantingFirethorn 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.

Propagating Firethorn

Making cuttings in summer is the easiest and fastest option for propagating Pyracantha.

  • Pyracantha propagationCollect 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 pyracantha careFirethorn, 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.

Important: Pyracantha blooms on stems grown during the previous year. This means that severe pruning will result in one year with very few blooms (and berries).

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

A thorny shrub belonging to the Rosaceae family, a further advantage is its rapid growth and its deep dark green evergreen leaves.

Pyracantha firethorn hedgeParticularly 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.

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.

Read also:

Smart tip about firethorn

Since it is thorny, it is perfect for defensive hedges.

Images: own work: Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois; Pixabay: Manfred Richter, Nicky, Bishnu Sarangi; Public Domain: Andreas