Pyracantha, A Happy Shrub Choice For Home


Pyracantha can be planted either in the spring or fall. Adaptable and accommodating as pyracantha is in so many respects, however, watch out when you're choosing plants. It can be extremely contrary about transplanting, so if possible choose container-grown plants.

But, if you have a neighbor who owns a pyracantha, don't hestitate to try your luck with rooting your own cuttings. July is the best time to take cuttings. For rooting, my favorite method has come to be equal parts of soil and peat moss topped with vermiculite. Make your cuttings 3 to 5-inches long, directly below a node which is a leaf joint. Remove the lower leaves and then press the slips into your rooting mixture. You can root several cuttings at a time in a deep box or cold frame if you have one, but I prefer to pot each cutting individually. Pyracantha just does not like transplanting, so why risk injuring roots when digging up new plants ?

Water thoroughly after potting and keep the cuttings in as humid an atmosphere as possible. A large jar placed over each one will help preserve moisture. Keep pots in a place where they will not get direct sun yet will receive good light. When I put the pots into my cold frame, I keep the sash closed most of the time except for about 20-minutes each morning. This morning airing gives me a chance to remove any yellowed or fallen leaves.

Cuttings will root in about 8 to 10-weeks, but will not be ready to be planted out in the open until the following spring. When you feel that yours are ready to go it alone, soak the pots in a mix of water, seaweed, and liquid fish thoroughly the night before, and again just before you take the cutting out. Then soil, roots and plants will slip out easily like a cake out of pan.

Whether you're the kind of gardener who prunes strictly according to the calendar, or when you have the shears handy, you shouldn't find this plant difficult to manage. Pyracantha can be pruned anytime, the amount depending upon the use to which your shrub has been put. For a hedge, shear it closely so that later growth will be twiggy with dense foliage. Or perhaps you have the space to allow your shrubs to grow naturally. The graceful, arching branches are indeed lovely.

I mulch my pyracantha the year-round. For summer, a 2-inch mulch of co-co shell mulch is sufficient. coco shell's are an attractive light brown color and will keep moisture from evaporating from the soil while not preventing water from penetrating into the ground. In winter you'll need a deeper mulch of straw or leaves to keep plants adequately protected. Unless rainfall has been plentiful during the autumn, make sure that the

planting is given at least 4-heavy soakings before frost arrives. This is important because when the ground is frozen hard shrubs cannot draw moisture from it.

And what can you plant that will get along well with pyracantha ? Lilac, another spring-flowering shrub, will be quite compatible since it too is fond of a sunny location and an alkaline soil. Try iris, carnations or phlox for summer-blooming perennials that will make an attractive fore-ground planting. Among annuals, alyssum and nasturtiums make a good choice.

Pyracantha is ideal for foundation plantings. Also a fast-growing, good-looking hedge, it will assure privacy. It can be used as a vine and is excellent for espalier since its long branches make tremendous growth in a season or two and can be easily trained. Or, you can allow this shrub to grow naturally. Unrestricted by pruning, it makes a rounded, wide-spreading, many-stemmed plant up to 12-feet.

Whether you choose pyracantha for its spring flowers, winter foliage, or autumn berries, I think you will enjoy it. Besides isn't it fun to see something so pretty grow faster than the weeds ?

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