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First things first, let me introduce you to the Pyracantha.

Pyracantha, also commonly known as ‘Firethorn’ (Pyra meaning fire, and cantha meaning thorn) it’s a versatile shrub that blesses gardens and landscapes with character and color.

A genus of 7 evergreen species. Prickly shrubs with dense green foliage; white 5-petalled flowers in the summer followed by bright berries in the autumn. The pyracantha is an attractive choice for people who want color in their gardens all year round.

How is the pyracantha grown?

Originally found in the woodlands of Southern Europe, South West Asia, the Himalayas, Taiwan and China; Pyracantha can be found growing in a few different forms.

From spreading, to erect shrubs and even sometimes full trees.

Free standing

Many garden enthusiasts buy the Firethorn as a free standing decorative shrub that sits nicely in a border.

Free standing Pyracantha in flower bed

Against a wall

Some, including myself – like to grow pyracantha along a wall. This creates a nice tailored look, on what would otherwise be a dull wall.


pyracantha on a wall

Pyracantha flowering in summer.

pyracantha berries in the late summer

The same Pyracantha pictured above in the late summer.

To do this, have a look to see if the wall receives some sunlight throughout the day. Pyracantha is naturally from a warmer climate so will ultimately thrive in full sun or partial shade. If the wall isn’t in full sun, don’t worry – it should still grow it just won’t flourish like it should.

Plant the pyracantha near the base of the wall and make sure the soil is well drained and fertilized. If the ground doesn’t appear to be that fertile, mix some compost in at the base to promote healthy growth.

Once planted, you need some kind of support system in place, this can be a trellis or a framework. Here, I have used vine eyes and garden wire to create my desired tailored look.

As the pyracantha grows upwards, it will send off symmetrical shoots from the main stem. Guide the shoots along the garden wire, gradually this will train it to keep growing in that direction.

Light pruning is key at this stage to maintain shape and control its growth.

Cut off any stray branches from the stem and don’t be afraid to use shears to trim bushy foliage in the summer. Always remove any dead or diseased branches.

When first planted, water the base of the pyracantha every couple of days. However, don’t over do it! We want the soil moist not waterlogged. Once the shrub takes root, it will become more drought tolerant.


A pyracantha hedge is a popular choice for a couple of reasons.

  1. Because it’s resistant to many of the common pests, this means it should last a while! The last thing you want is to wait a couple of years for the hedge to grow, only for it to die from a disease or common pest.
  2. Like many shrubs, pyracantha can grow to any height or shape you let it, perfect for filling in awkward gaps.
  3. The dense leaves make this shrub a great choice for creating privacy from neighbors and passers by. When properly pruned and taken care of, it will eventually be a thick hedge and almost impossible to see through.
  4. In my opinion, the main reason for using pyracantha as a hedge is for security reasons. The thorns make it a great deterrent to any intruder or animals trying to come onto your land.

So, not only is the pyracantha a thick hedge which is great for boundary walls, the big thorns provide an added layer of security.

Because of the thorns, you should wear gloves when handling, pruning or planting the pyracantha; you’ll certainly know about it if you dont!

Overall though, I think it makes a good hedge and aswell as the added security the pyracantha will look great come spring and late summer.


There’s a few ways to propagate the pyracantha, let’s take a look.

From Seed

Propagating from seeds is possible, however the new plant may not be the same as the parent plant. This is because there’s a few genetic variations with the pyracantha; If you want to do it anyway, here’s how:

  • Pick up the berries from the preferred pyracantha in the autumn
  • Open the berries, take the seeds out and clean them
  • Place the seeds in a plastic bag with some moist peat moss, seal the bag and pop it in the fridge for a couple of weeks. (Peat moss is not the same as compost)
  • Plant the seeds in containers with a well draining seed mix
  • Provide light and keep the soil moist
  • Once the seeds are coming through, put them into larger pots – this gives them chance to grow bigger.
From Cuttings
  • In the late spring find your preferred pyracantha, find a partially mature stem and take a cutting. The cutting needs to be around 4-6 inches
  • Remove the leaves from the lower part of the stem
  • Plant the cuttings into a container filled with nutritious soil, you can use rooting hormone if you want to, although not always necessary.
  • To maintain humidity, cover the container with a plastic bag.
  • Once covered, place the container somewhere bright and keep the soil moist.
  • In a few weeks, the cuttings should of rooted, once they have simply pop them into their own individual pots.


Different types of Pyracantha

Pyracantha Coccinea (Scarlet Firethorn)

The Coccinea is is commonly known as the Scarlet Firethorn ‘Red Star’, a well known species among pyracanthas – from South East Europe.

The coccinea is a semi-evergreen shrub with spikey branches that gets covered by clustered white flowers. The flowers look attractive against the deep green foliage.

The coccinea stands out from other species due to its scarlet berries which appear to brighten up any dull autumn or winter day. The colors of the plants berries range from orange to bright red (scarlet) and will stay the same until winter. it’s because of its scarlet berries that its called scarlet firethorn. There is a version called ‘Orange Glow‘ which has orange berries also.

Attracts Birds

Some birds will consume the bright red berries of the scarlet firethorn plants in the autumn and winter. However, they may not eat a lot at once as they can prove toxic to birds in large amounts.


When does the scarlet firethorn bloom?

The scarlet firethorn blooms around mid to late spring, up to early summer.

What height and width should I expect?

If left, this pyracantha can grow up to 2-3 meters high and around 3.5 meters in width.

What colors can I expect from this shrub?

In total, the pyracantha coccinea will give off 4 different colors that can enhance your dull space.

Firstly, the stem will either be green or brown and the leaves are dense and green most of the year round. When late spring comes, lovely white flowers will start to bloom and really pop out from the dense green foliage giving a fantastic display.

Once the flowers have gone, the next things to come are the berries. These come out in abundance in the late summer/early winter and come in a bright red (scarlet, hence the name) or a bright orange.

Is the Scarlet Firethorn easy to care for?

This shrub us super easy to take care of as it is resistant to most pests and diseases, making it a great choice for amateur gardeners.

The shrub is pretty hardy and can withstand temperatures of upto -23 degrees. It can grow in most soils whether or not its clay, chalky, sandy, adicic, neutral or alkaline; making this a great all rounder.

When it comes to watering, try not to over water! It’s best watering once the first top inch of soil has dried out. Over watering can cause roots to rot; however, avoid watering in the winter when the plant is dormant.

When is the best time to plant Scarlet Firethorn?

The best times to plant are in the spring or autumn.

Pyracantha Koidzumii (Formosa Firethorn)

The Pyracantha Koidzumii, also known as the Formosa firethorn has sealed its place as a top choice amongst gardeners and landscapers because of its ability to adapt and distinct features.

Originally found in Korea and Japan, the Pyracantha Koidzumii like other pyracanthas is popular because of its versatility and captivating appearance.

All pyracanthas are quite similar, hence why they are all under the same genus.

So, rather than list out all of the same things I mentioned for the coccinea (because many of the basics will be the same) let’s see how the Koidzumii compares with the coccinea mentioned above.

What height and width should I expect from the Koidzumii?

This species, like the coccinea has an upright growth but tends to be less dense and more open. It grows to a similar height as the coccinea and that’s around 6-10 feet.

Koidzumii Appearance

While the leaves of the coccinea are dark green, narrow and have jagged edges; The leaves of the koidzumii are broader and slightly longer, whilst the leaves remain dark green.

When it comes to color in the spring, the clusters of flowers on the Koidzumii are less dense and slightly smaller compared to the coccinea, this could be something to bare in mind when trying to perk up a dull space in the garden.

However, come autumn there isn’t much in it where berries are concerned, as the coccinea and the koidzumii will both have striking orange and red berries.

A key reason gardeners and home owners choose pyracantha is because of its hardiness and low maintenance features. Like the coccinea, the koidzumii is well equipped for all types of weather. Whether or not it’s freezing, a hot and dry summer, or even being planted in poor soil; This shrub can survive in most settings.

Things to consider

It’s essential to keep in mind the koidzumiis have invasive tendencies.

Invasive plant species are species that aren’t native to the new ecosystem. Basically, this means is that if the new species spreads rapidly, sooner or later it will be competing with other native shrubs; therefore disrupting the balance of the current ecosystem.

This can lead to other native shrubs decreasing massively and slowly dying out – thus making changes in wildlife habitats too.

Pyracantha Angustifolia (Narrowleaf Firethorn)

The Pyracantha angustifolia stands out from the other pyracanthas because of its exceptionally narrow leaves, they are notably slim and elongated; hence why it’s also called ‘Narrowleaf Firethorn’.

The leaves create a unique appearance on the pyracantha, as the other species tend to have chunkier, broader leaves.

Like all pyracanthas, the angustifolia also has many big thorny branches!

The branches on this species are more densely packed with thorns compared to other types, the thorns tend to be sharper as well – this makes it a great choice for a security hedge.

So, if you’re wanting a pyracantha hedge for added security, the pyracantha angustifoldxzia would be the one for you.

Another thing that makes the angustifola stand out is the sheer amount of berries it produces during the autumn and winter months. As they ripen, the berries tend to be orange to red. The densely coloured berries make for a fantastic display and put the angustifolia up there with the top pyracantha species.

Adding to its unique appeal, although it still grows upright and bushy it’s branches are slightly more arching and graceful. Because of this, it’s a popular choice for those wanting a certain ornamental look in their back garden or yard.

The angustifolia is known for being quite hardy and being able to adapt easily to different kinds of environmental conditions. It’s relatively resistant to droughts once its established and can grow in different soil types. The shrub deals with the cold quite well making it ideal for a wide range of climates.

Pyracantha Atalantioides (Sichuan firethorn & Gibbs firethorn)

The pyracantha Atalantioides, is commonly known as the ‘Sichuan Firethorn’ or ‘Gigg’s Firethorn’ is originally from Central China. It can grow upto 20 feet and while it’s pretty much the same as any other pyracantha, there are some features that make this firethorn stand out from the others.

When the shrub blossoms in the spring it only blossoms small delicate white flowers, although they don’t scream for your attention like some of the other pyracantha genuses they are a pollinators dream! Butterflies and bees will flock to this like a bear to honey, making your garden buzz with wildlife.

Come late summer, the Sichuan firethorn starts showcasing fuller and rounder berries compared to its pyracantha cousins. The berries start off as bright green gradually transitioning to vivid oranges and reds creating a visual feast for the eyes, brightening up any space in the garden.

The pyracantha atalantioides is perfect for borders and retaining walls because it allows you to shape it how you like. You can encourage it to grow around arches and whatever shapes you fancy. For the more serious gardeners amongst us who prefer a more structured style, you can create tidy, formal shapes instead. The great thing is, it’s totally up to you!

This shrub is like a buffet for the local birds! The pyracantha atalantioides gives off an abundance of berries during the colder months, this is a god send for the birds when everything else is iced over and less accessible.

The Atalantioides with its abundance of berries and and unique leaves is a charming addition to any garden.

Pyracantha Rogersiana (Rogers Firethorn)

A spreading shrub, the Rogersiana is practically the same as the above except the leaves are around 4cm long and grows 4×4 metres in height and width. The ‘Flava’ variation of this genus has yellow berries.

Pyracantha Crenulata (Himalayan Firethorn)

The Pyracantha Crenulata also known as the ‘Himalayan Firethorn’ comes from the.. You guessed it, Himalayas!

It’s origin is what sets it apart from the other pyracanthas, as it absolutely thrives in mountainous, high altitude areas.

Harsh Climate

This pyracantha is renowned for surviving harsh climates and has adapted very well to the cold, this makes it the perfect choice if you’re in a region that has tougher winters. Many pyracanthas, although hardy, wouldn’t fare well in tough winters with ice cold temperatures; The Himalayan Firethorn however, thrives.

The berries on this shrub, like most of the other species are red or orange and create great visuals against the dark green leaves behind.

The colorful berries, although more dense than the other species, are a little bit smaller in size. Don’t let this deter you though as there’s still lots of color with an abundance of berries it produces.

As usual, the berries on the Himalayan Firethorn, like every other pyracantha shrub are a valuable food source for birds during the winter. Enticing birds in is a great idea for wildlife lovers.

This pyracantha like all of the species blossoms during the spring, the bright white flowers give out a fantastic display! It’s a pollinators paradise the bees absolutely love it.

Shrub size

If you’ve got a small garden, the pyracantha crenulata is a good choice. It grows more compact than the other pyracantha species, this makes for easier maintenance in small spaces.

Because it’s quite compact, this also means that its thorns are smaller, handy and much kinder to your hands when pruning! Although when dealing with any species of pyracantha I would always recommend wearing gloves. Because its thorns are smaller, I wouldn’t recommend having this species as a hedge. If you’re after added security with your hedges, I’d choose a different variety of pyracantha.

As you can see, these unique features make it a good choice for garden enthusiasts in cold parts of the world, don’t get me wrong, they’ll be fine in the warmer parts too! The leaves can be used to make green tea too!

Pyracantha Fortuneana (Chinese Firethorn) 

The Pyracantha Fortuneana (crenatoserrata) also known as the ‘Chinese Firethorn or the ‘Yunnan Firethorn’ is a genus of pyracantha originally found in Central China and is now found all around the globe. In places like the United States, New Zealand and Australia.

Again, like most of the other pyracanthas, the Chinese firethorn will display many bright red berries in the late summer/early winter.

The leaf shape in particular stands out with this shrub, the leaves are shorter but broader than other pyracantha species.

The Fortuneana grows in a similar way to the Rogersiana and has an ‘arching’ growth. As mentioned earlier with the Rogersiana variety, it looks pretty cool when used as a border plant or growing on walls and even along archways; really making the arch feature pop in the summer and winter.

Overall, there’s nothing to me that really stands out about this genus, except the leaf but it’s quite similar to some of the other mentioned.

Pests and Diseases

Like any shrub, the pyracantha is vulnerable to multiple pests and diseases, it’s obviously a very resilient shrub but this doesn’t make it exempt from thm. So, lets take a look at some pests and diseases that you need to look out for to ensure your pyracantha stays healthy.

Fire Blight – If you notice the shrub wilting or turning black on some branches then your shrub might be infected with fire blight, while not an insect, this is a bacterial disease that can affect pyracanthas. It will almost look burnt, hence the name Fire Blight.

Spider Mites – These mites start off by eating the underneath of the leaves. A couple of tell tale signs you may notice are discoloration, numerous small dots or specks on the leaf and reduced photosynthesis.

Caterpillars – The pyracantha moth larvae can be a real pain, these caterpillars chew on the leaf creating awful looking holes and can eventually defoliate the whole plant.

Aphids – These are tiny insects that can suck the life out of your pyracantha. They’ll start by sucking the sap from any new growth, leaving the leaves to curl, turn yellow and eventually die.

Scale Insects – These little insects are quite difficult to get rid of, they have a protective shell and just attach themselves to the stem of the pyracantha, weakening the shrub over time.


Scab – This is a fungal disease that can lead to quite serious infections affecting the whole plant. Things to look out for if you think your shrub is infected are scaly lesions, often black on the leaves or even on the fruit.

Leaf Spot – This disease won’t necessarily cause your plants demise, but the circular dark leaves will drastically reduce the plants appeal. Leaf spot is caused by fungal pathogens. Keep the shrub well pruned, keeping air circulation throughout the shrub is key to reducing the risk of fungal diseases.

Root Rot – If you notice your pyracanthas health declining and the leaves wilting with yellow leaves, check the soil first. If its constantly soaked and not well drained this could be a sign of root rot.

Powdery Mildew – Often appearing on the leaves and shoots, the white powdery substance can reduce photosynthesis and weaken the overall plant.

Although all of the above might sound daunting, don’t panic!

There’s steps you can take to reduce the chances of these happening. First of all, as soon as you see a problem, or think you see a problem, address it straight away before its too late; nipping this problem in the bud as soon as you can is key.

Improving air circulation helps the stem of the shrub breathe, this reduces the risk of fungal diseases taking hold. To do this, regular pruning is necessary. When pruned, get rid of the waste plant material.

Getting rid of other plant waste minimizes hiding places for other insects or potential diseases. As mentioned a few times throughout this article, always make sure the soil is well drained, and receives decent sun light.




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