Why We Love Pyracantha
We’re on fire for firethorn.
Has there ever—in the history of blooms, berries, and botany as a whole—been a more autumnal planting than pyracantha? This shrub is a gorgeous evergreen plant with deep orange berries that always remind us of fall. Never heard of pyracantha? How about its common name, firethorn? It’s a name the shrub comes by honestly, as it produces fiery-hued berries and thin thorns as sharp as needles.
The shrub flowers in late spring and summer, and the clusters of berries follow. The most recognizable are the pea-sized red-orange berries, but these shrubs produce berries in all the shades of fire: orange, red, and yellow too. They begin to form in summer and mature to a fiery orange in fall. According to The New Southern Living Garden Book, “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.”
Pyracantha produces white flowers and glossy, deep green evergreen foliage. Depending on the conditions in which they’re planted, they can usually be counted on to grow from 5-12 feet high and 5-8 feet wide. According to The New Southern Living Garden Book, “All grow fast and vigorously, varying in habit from upright to sprawling.” Pyracantha thrives with full sun and moderate water, and they grow best when allowed to follow their growth habit unimpeded. Only occasional pruning is necessary. They can also be trained into espaliers, which are beautiful year-round thanks to the plants’ foliage, flowers, and berries.
Popular selections of firethorn include Pyracantha angustifolia 'Yukon Belle,’ which is cold hardy and produces bright orange berries. Selections of scarlet firethorn, or Pyracantha coccinea, include ‘Chadwickii,’ ‘Red Cushion,’ and ‘Rutgers.’
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What evergreen shrubs are you growing in your garden? If you’d like to add a striking, easy-care evergreen to your space this season, pyracantha is the way to go.