Pyracantha (common name, Firethorn) is a popular, hardy plant that comes from the Rosaceae family. Labelled Firethorn because of its beautifully bright berries that “fire” from Autumn through to Spring, this plant deserves a home in any garden due to its eye-catching appearance and benefits to wildlife.
Pyracantha is an evergreen plant, so will never be sat in your garden looking forlorn. But it will add even more delight to your garden at two main points through the year – in Spring, white sprinklings of flowers will cover your plant, then your Pyracantha will change again in Autumn, becoming covered in beautiful berries (usually found in red, orange or yellow).
Only Got 5 Minutes?
If you are keen to learn all there is to know about Pyracantha then the following information is for you.
Pyracantha really is a strong plant that can grow in many conditions that other plants would be unable. For this reason, it is perfect for parts of the garden that you are struggling to work with, whether it be due to lack of sunlight or inadequate soil conditions.
The plant does not require full sunlight, however, it can also happily grow in full sun exposure, and can cope in slightly windier conditions (although it is important to note that this will slow down the growth). Equally, any soil that does not become water-logged will be perfect for this shrub.
Another amazing benefit to Pyracantha is that it can be planted at any time! There is nothing worse than taking the time to carefully select a plant for your garden, to find that you have missed the planting period and have to wait until next year to enjoy it! This is a problem that you will not have with Pyracantha! Although they are most suited to being planted in Autumn or Winter, if you are outside this window (or just don’t want to be planting in the pouring rain!) you can still feel able to get planting!
Caring for your Pyracantha
Another benefit to planting Pyracantha is how low-maintenance they are once in your garden! We would always recommend watering plants while they become established in your garden and on dry spells, but other than this all your shrub will need is an annual feed of general-purpose fertiliser. None of the arduous plants feed daily for this fiery shrub!
If you are wanting your Pyracantha to grow in a certain way, or stay a certain size, then the main way in which you will need to care for it is through pruning and trimming. We have provided more details on this below!
Why Plant Pyracantha?
In case you haven’t noticed by now, we are true fans of this shrub, however, there are many more reasons why it is perfect for every garden!
- Easy to look after
- Eye-catching and bright, so will add colour to even the darkest parts of your garden
- The thorny plant can be used as an added security measure for your garden – if enough are planted together and allowed to grow thick enough
- The beautiful fragrance from the flowers
- Pyracantha can prove to be a versatile plant – trim and shape your plant for a more ordered look, train as a climbing plant, or leave to grow with a more natural “secret garden” effect
- The berries can be used to make jams and marmalades (just make sure not to eat them raw!)
Wildlife Can Benefit Too!
Believe it or not, planting Pyracantha in your garden isn’t just going to improve your garden – but also improve the lives of many types of wildlife!
- The berries will provide vital food for birds as the weather starts to get cooler
- The thorny branches can also be a perfect nesting space for smaller birds
- The plant will also be a high source of nectar for pollinating insects, such as bees
How to Plant Pyracantha
Pyracantha will need to be pot-grown when smaller, but if purchasing a larger plant, you may be able to plant straight into your garden. We would recommend planting between 60cm and 75cm apart. Obviously, the closer together the easier it will be to create a “hedge effect” (if this is what you are wanting) but further apart will give the plant a better chance to grow and develop. Also, if you are wanting your Pyracantha to grow up a wall then you will need to plant around 50cm away from the wall, and provide some type of trellis to help support the growth while the plant is smaller.
We would recommend adding some fertiliser and high-quality soil to the area before planting, to give your shrub the best chance of growing strong. Then simply dig a deep hole, large enough for your plant (plus some space around the outside for when you are replacing the soil. Once you have put your plant where you want it, simply add the soil/fertiliser mix around the plant and pat down to make sure it is secure in the soil.
Pruning and Trimming Your Pyracantha
Over the first couple of years, it is unlikely that your plant will need pruning, as it will still be establishing itself in the soil. This means that you can just trim any dead stems. However, after this time period Pyracantha can grow at around 60cm per year, therefore will need trimming annually (ideally at the end of spring/start of summer).
TOP TIP: Where possible, trim outshoots that are affected by pyracantha scab (these will have leaves covered in black scabs).
Frequently Asked Questions
There could be a number of reasons why your Pyracantha is not producing the number of berries that you would like. The most common reason is if you are pruning and trimming your plant too much. Secondly would be if the plant does not have sufficient sunlight and water, which can affect the growth.
As we have discussed, Pyracantha shrubs are very hardy, and therefore are able to cope in most cold weather down to around -18 degrees, so should not need covering in winter months (unless you live somewhere prone to particularly cold spells).