Pyracantha – firethorn

Plants from this small group of hardy evergreen spiny shrubs are grown for their flowers, produced in summer, their foliage and most of all for their clusters of spectacularly bright, autumnAvinter berries.

Suitable site and soil. For a fine specimen, plant in an open site; alternatively plant against a wall, even a north-facing wall. They are not fussy about soil, as long as it is well-drained and fertile, and tolerate lime. They do as well in partial shade as they do in full sun.

Cultivation and care. Prune side growths to maintain shape if planted against a wall. Plant out in autumn or winter.

Propagation. Increase by cuttings taken in summer and put in a propagating frame.

Recommended varieties. One of the best is P. coccinea ‘Lalan-dei’ which has oval-shaped pointed leaves and produces clusters of small white flowers early in summer. These are followed by orange-red berries. It grows to 3.7m – 12ft high and spreads 3.7m – 12ft; ‘Mohave’ has a spreading growth and also produces orange-red berries. P. atalantioides is similar but grows to 4.6m – 15ft and spreads 3.7m – 12ft; it has white flowers and smaller but more numerous scarlet berries. P. ‘Orange Charmer’ is also similar but has orange berries. P. rogersiana Jlava is not quite so tall and has narrow, bright green leaves and white flowers that give way to yellow berries.

Pests and diseases. Watch out for aphids and scale insects and also for fireblight and scab.


When growing against a wall, firethorn does best if supported by wires or trellis. For optimum results, new, vigorous shoots need to be tied in during mid summer and early autumn.

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