FIRETHORN

FAMILY: Rosaceae | GENUS: PYRACANTHA

TYPE
  • Evergreen
  • Shrubs
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
WATER
  • Moderate Water

Plant Details

Grown for bright fruit, evergreen foliage (may be semievergreen in cold climates), versatility in the landscape, ease of culture. All grow fast and vigorously, varying in habit from upright to sprawling. All have glossy green, 1- to 4 inches- long, - to 1 inches-wide leaves that are generally oval or rounded at ends; all bear flowers and fruit on spurs along wood of last year's growth. Small, spring blooms are dull creamy white, carried in flattish clusters; they're effective thanks to their profusion. Nearly all species have needlelike thornsthus, the common name, firethorn.

The real glory of firethorns is in their thick clusters of pea-size, orange-red berries, which light up the garden for months. Selections with red, orange, or yellow berries are available; if color is important to you, buy plants when they are in fruit. Depending on selection, berries color up from late summer to mid-autumn; some types hang on until late winter, when they are cleared out by birds, storms, or decay. Dislodge old, withered or rotted berries with a jet of water or an old broom.

As shrubs and ground covers, firethorns look better and fruit more heavily if allowed to follow their natural growth habit. Prune only to check wayward branches. Plants can also be espaliered or sheared as hedges (though shearing comes at the expense of much fruit). Firethorns tolerate most soils but should not be overwatered. Two serious problems are fireblight (which can kill the plant) and scab (which causes defoliation and sooty-looking fruit); for best success, choose disease-resistant selections.

pyracantha angustifolia 'Yukon Belle

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Selection of a Chinese native.
  • To 810 feet tall, 68 feet wide.
  • Bright orange berries.
  • Quite cold hardy.

scarlet firethorn

pyracantha coccinea

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9 .
  • From the eastern Mediterranean.
  • Rounded growth to 810 feet high (20 feet trained against wall).
  • Red-orange fruit.
  • Best known for its cold-hardy selections, which include the following.

Chadwickii

  • Compact to 6 feet high and spreading a few feet wider.
  • Abundant orange-red berries.

Red Cushion

  • Spreading to 4 ft, high; 6 ft wide.

Rutgers

  • To 3 feet high, 5 feet wide, with orange berries.
  • Good disease resistance.

CHINESE FIRETHORN

pyracantha crenatoserrata(Pyracantha fortuneana, Pyracantha yunnanensis)

  • Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9.
  • From China.
  • Vase-shaped plant to 15 feet tall, 10 feet wide.
  • Limber branches make it a good choice for espalier.
  • Orange to coral berries last through winter.

Graberi

  • More upright than the species, with huge clusters of dark red fruit.

pyracantha hybrids

  • This category includes some of the most desirable rethorns.
  • Plants vary in size, habit, and cold hardiness.

Apache

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • To 5 feet high and 6 feet wide.
  • Large bright red berries last well into winter.
  • Resistant to reblight and scab.

Fiery Cascade

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • To 8 feet tall, 9 feet wide; berries turn from orange to red.
  • Good disease resistance.

Gold Rush

  • Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9.
  • To 10 ft, high and wide.
  • Orange-yellow fruit.
  • Resistant to scab.

mohave pyracantha

Mohave

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • To 12 feet tall and wide.
  • Heavy producer of big orange-red fruit that colors in late summer and lasts well into winter.
  • Resistant to reblight and scab.

navaho pyracantha

Navaho

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • To 6 feet high, 8 feet wide.
  • Orange-red berries.
  • Resistant to reblight and scab.

Red Elf

  • Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9.
  • Densely branched plant to 2 feet high and widegood in containers.
  • Long-lasting bright red fruit.

Ruby Mound

  • Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9.
  • Among the most graceful of ground cover rethorns.
  • Long, arching, drooping branches make broad mounds 212 feet high, spreading to about 10 feet Bright red fruit.

Silver Lining

  • Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9.
  • Grows to 3 feet high and wide.
  • Green leaves with white edges.
  • In winter, leaves turn purple with pinkish-white edges.
  • Few berries.

teton pyracantha

Teton

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Very cold hardy.
  • Columnar growth to 12 feet tall, 4 feet wide.
  • Golden yellow fruit.

Tiny Tim

  • Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9.
  • Compact, small-leafed plant to 3 feet high.
  • Few or no thorns.
  • Red berries.
  • Informal low hedge, barrier, tub plant.

formosa firethorn

pyracantha koidzumii

  • Zones LS, CS; USDA 8-9.
  • Unruly grower to 812 feet tall and wide.
  • Selections are better known than the species and include the following.

Santa Cruz

  • ('Santa Cruz Prostrata').
  • Low-growing, spreading plant, branching from base.
  • To 6 feet tall but easily kept below 3 feet by pinching out the occasional upright branch.
  • Red fruit.
  • Plant 45 feet apart for ground or bank cover.
  • Very resistant to scab.

Victory

  • Vigorous growth to 10 feet tall, 8 feet wide.
  • Dark red berries color late in the year but hold on well.
  • Resistant to scab.

Search by Plant Name

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Experience our exclusive vacation collection.