Last updated on October 2nd, 2016

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If you are looking for information on Pyracantha which is also known as Firethorn then you are in the right place, our website is full of detailed information and pictures on almost everything that you can think of related to this spikey evergreen shrub.  Information available on Pyracantha varieties, how to make Pyracantha jelly, and how to plant a pyracantha hedge.

We also have lots of new gardening information and guides available on our website so be sure to take a look around.

The Pyrancantha is an excellent shrub for planting in a variety of ways.  It can be planted against a wall and then trained against it, or alternatively you can plant to create a dense, evergreen hedge. Pyrancantha plants produce fragrant white flowers during May and June, followed by red, orange or yellow berries in autumn and winter (depending on the variety chosen). It also attracts wildlife into the garden, such as birds who feed on the berries throughout the winter and the shrub provides cover for nesting and roosting birds, as well as attracting bees in the summer. Pyracantha’s are easy to grow and require very little maintenance.  They have small, gloss-green leaves and are thorny, so be sure to put on a pair of protective gloves when planting and pruning them.

Pyracantha berries are not poisonous as many people think although they are very bitter to taste, they are edible when cooked and are sometimes made into jelly.

Pyracantha grown in trellis
Pyracantha grown on a trellis

Pyracantha Facts

  • Botanical Name: Pyracantha.
  • Common Name: Firethorn.
  • Common varities: Pyrancantha Red Column, Pyracantha Orange Glow, Pyracantha Mohave.
  • Planting time: Best planted from October when dormant but can be planted anytime of year if pot grown.
  • Flowers: May – June
  • Berries: Autumn and Winter
  • Position: Full Sun / Partial shade
  • Planting area: prefers fertile, well-drained soil although it will grow well in most soils.
  • Size: Grows to approximately 300cm (10ft) (120″)
  • Hardiness: Fully hardy

Varieties of Pyracantha

Pyracantha 'Red Column' also known as Firethorn with red berries
Pyracantha ‘Red Column’ also known as Firethorn

There are many varities of Pyracantha available which include:

Pyracantha ‘Red Column’ (red berries), ‘Pyracantha Orange Glow’ (orange berries), Pyracantha Mohave (orange/red berries) and Pyracantha ‘Soleil d’Or’ (bright yellow berries) which are ideal for using to plant as a hedge or train up a wall or fence. They grow to around 10ft tall but can be pruned to your required size, but be careful not to prune out last year’s growth as these produce most of the berries. Other varieties which are supposed to be partially resistant to Pyracantha Scab (a common disease that effects Pyracantha) are The Saphyr® range and ‘Golden Charmer’, ‘Orange Charmer’ ‘Shawnee’ and ‘Teton’ Pyracantha.

To learn more about varieties of PyracanthaMore Info

Pruning and Training Pyracantha

picture of Pyracantha with orange berries which has been trained up a trellis on a wall
A perfect example of a Firethorn trained up a wall.

Pyracantha is a low maintenance shrub used for training up walls or around frames and doors, when pruning care should be taken not to prune too much of last year’s growth off.  This is because a Pyracantha flowers upon the previous years growth in the summer followed by berries in the autumn and winter.  Pruning is best done when plants are in flower, this is so that you can prune back the flowers so that the berries will be on show later in the year, this also reduces the amount of flowering branches being pruned off.

If you are pruning a Pyracantha hedge then this should be done from spring and ideally up to three times a year to keep the hedge nicely trimmed to your required shape. This however will make the hedge produce far less berries, but there is not much else you can do if you want a tightly cut hedge.

Read more about pruning and training PyracanthaMore Info

Pyracantha Cultivation

Pyracantha can be planted in most soil conditions as long as the site is not waterlogged. They do grow better in fertile, well-drained soil but it will also do well in dry or clay soils. Ideally they are best planted in full sun to promote a heavy crop of berries but will do fine in partial shade but may not produce as many berries. If you are planting Pyracantha to be trained against a wall then plant the Pyracantha approximately 30-40cm away from the wall. Pyracantha are strong enough to hold themselves against the wall but would probably benefit from being tied onto the wall, we recommend either running wires along your wall and then tying the Pyracantha to the wires

Pyracantha can be planted in full sun or semi-shade and grow well in most soil types including clay and dry soil, they will thrive better in fertile well-drained soil as this is their ideal growing condition. When planting only plant to the same depth they have been previously planted, never plant further up the stem as this can damage the plant. Water plants regularly when planted and do not allow to dry out.

Read more about Pyracantha CultivationMore Info

Pyracantha Diseases and how to spot and control them

Pyracantha effected by Fireblight
Pyracantha effected by Fireblight

Pyracantha are prone to some diseases which can badly affect the plant if not treated at the first signs of the disease.  The two most common diseases associated with Pyracantha are Fireblight and Pyracantha Scab. Fireblight is a systemic disease which is spread by aphids, bugs, birds and even the wind and rain so it is easily spread and can quickly spread from plant to plant. The disease is easy to spot and affected leaves start to turn black and cracked as if it has been burnt by fire giving it its name Fireblight.

Pyracantha Scab is not a serious as Fireblight but is very unsightly, it affects the blossoms and berries start turn black and appear scabby, it also causes the Pyracantha to drop leaves and loss of flowers and the berries become disfigured. Pyrancantha Scab is a fungal disease that is spread when fungal spores are spread to the plant by the wind, rain and by bugs and birds.

Read more about diseases that affect PyracanthaMore Info

Pests and the effects on Pyracantha and how to treat them

Caterpillars which have invested in Pyracantha shrub
Caterpillars on Pyracantha

Pyracantha have quite a few pest which they are susceptible to be attacked by which include, Brown Scale insects, Aphids, Leaf Mining Moths, Caterpillars and Whoolly Aphids.

The good news is that these pests can be controlled using many techniques including spraying with a good garden insecticide which are available from most good nurseries and garden centres.

Read more about pests and how they effect Pyracantha and how to treat themMore Info

How to plant a Pyracantha hedge

On average, hedging plants will be spaced between 2 – 3ft (60-90cm) apart and the hedge will be made up of a single row. If you want a thicker hedge, you will need more plants, planted in double staggered rows. These rows will need to be spaced 70-100cm apart, with 60-90cm between each plant in the two rows. A single row Pyracantha hedge can form a 4ft wide hedge using this method so it isn’t very often doubles rows are planted with Pyracantha

“A general rule of thumb is plants need to be spaced so there are just a few inches from touching at either side.”

These instructions are a guide only and are ideal for planting Pyracantha  which are 1-3ft (30-90cm) tall. If planting larger plants you may need to alter the trench size etc to accommodate the plants.

Planting a hedge – Step 1

Before planting a hedge you need to dig a trench the length of what you want your new hedge to be, this needs to be approximately 60cm (2ft) wide and 40-50cm deep. If you are planting larger plants you will need to alter the width and depth of the trench accordingly. If you are planting a double hedge you will need to increase the width of the trench to approximately 90cm (3ft) wide. Simply pale the soil to the side of the trench and remove any weeds and large stones.

Find our full instructions on how to plant a hedge: Read Rest Of This Article Now!




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  1. Denise Moyse

    My pyracanthas blossom well but the berries start shrivelling before they can even start to grow, Why? They are in pots up against a fence. Any ideas please.

  2. John

    I assume they are not turning black which would be scab similar to that seen on apple fruit. I noticed you said they are grown in pots, do they get enough water, this would cause this to happen specially during warm weather. they need watering regularly as they have very restricted access to water when in pots even when raining. Large plants quickly become root bound as well.

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