Evergreen, Ground covers, Shrubs, Decorative fruit or berries
Varied natives to China, Himalayas, and northern India. Plants range from low types used as groundcovers to small, stiffly upright shrubs to tall (25 ft.) shrubs of fountainlike growth with graceful, arching branches. White or pink springtime flowers resembling tiny single roses are pretty because of their abundance, though not especially showy. Berries (typically red or orange-red) follow the blossoms in fall and winter. Some species can be invasive, spreading by seeds into wild areas.
Cotoneasters are useful, if not striking, shrubs and can be good-looking in the proper setting. Some are especially attractive in form and branching pattern (C. congestus, C. horizontalis), while some others (C. microphyllus) are notable for colorful fruit that is long lasting if birds don’t get it. Trailing varieties make excellent groundcovers. Low horizontal kinds die out in desert heat.
All cotoneasters thrive with little or no maintenance. In fact, they look better and produce better crops of berries if planted on dry slopes (where they can reduce erosion) or in poor soil rather than in rich, moist garden soil. While some medium and tall growers can be sheared, they look best when allowed to maintain natural fountain shapes. Prune only to enhance graceful arch of branches. Keep medium growers looking young by pruning out portion of oldest wood each year. Prune groundcovers to remove dead or awkward branches. Give flat growers room to spread. Don’t plant near walk or drive where branch ends will need stubbing. Some cotoneasters are susceptible to fireblight.
Evergreen. Fast, prostrate growth to 8 in. high and 10 ft. wide. Branches root along the ground. Leaves are bright glossy green and fruit is bright red. ‘Coral Beauty’ (C. x suecicus ‘Coral Beauty’) is 6 in. high; ‘Eichholz’ grows to 10–12 in. high and shows a scattering of red-orange leaves in fall; ‘Lowfast’ is 1 ft. high; ‘Mooncreeper’ grows to 8–10 in. high and has large flowers; ‘Skogsholmen’ grows to 1 1/2 ft. high. ‘Streib’s Findling’ (which may be a hybrid with C. procumbens or a selection of that species) grows to 4–6 in. high, has dark bluish green foliage. All are good groundcovers in sun or partial shade and can drape over walls, cascade down slopes.
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