Cotoneaster is the name given to a disparate collection of shrubs, most of which are evergreen and grown for their attractive winter foliage and red berries. There are also, however cotoneasters that look very different – some are deciduous while still others are semi-evergreen. There is such variety in these shrubs that there will doubtless be one to suit all gardens.

Growing cotoneaster:

Most cotoneasters are best grown in full sun though there are also many variants that can be grown in partial shade. They prefer moderately fertile, well-drained soil, but are adaptable to almost any type of soil as long as it is does not get too waterlogged.

There are over two hundred different types of Cotoneaster. You will find that these attractive landscape plants can be in the form of creeping ground covers, dwarf bushes and tall, rangy ones. Most though not all do share certain characteristics, however. Most cotoneasters have small pink or white flowers that resemble rose buds and open in the spring. These are then followed by bright red or orange berries that appear in the autumn/winter.

You can buy cotoneaster from many good garden centres and plant nurseries or take a softwood cutting from an existing, established plant. If you do with to propagate these plants from cuttings then the use of rooting hormone is strongly recommended as the cuttings sometimes seem reluctant to take.

Cotoneaster will usually do well after transplantation to its final growing location but you should take care to make sure that it is watered well and consistently while it is becoming established. Once established the cotoneaster is usually fairly drought tolerant and can be more or less left to its own devices.

Cotoneaster shrubs will however benefit from the addition of a good quality organic mulch and top-dressing of compost in the autumn to ensure the continued fertility of the soil and continued good health of the plant.

While you can prune if you wish to tidy the shape of the plants, cotoneaster need not be pruned except to remove any dead, diseased or unhealthy branches. With most varieties, if pruning is required then it is best done in the early spring.

Why grow cotoneaster in the garden?

Cotoneaster is a useful shrub both for bringing winter interest and colour and also for bringing both beneficial insects and birdlife to your garden. The bees will be attracted to the flowers in the spring and then the berries in the autumn and winter will be a great food source for garden birds.  

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