Cotoneaster

Many varieties of this plant show off spectacular colors in the fall.

Colorful Combinations

Cotoneaster's small deep-green leaves make an attractive backdrop for many other plants. This shrub can blend into the background or soften the edges of the garden. In spring, cotoneaster is covered in small 5-petal blossoms in shades of white and pink. As these flowers begin to fade, a heavy display of berries takes their place; sometimes the whole plant is covered with them. Most varieties bear red berries, although some types bear golden yellow berries. They usually last well into winter, as long as they are not eaten by birds. Many varieties of deciduous cotoneaster also exhibit spectacular fall color in glowing shades of orange, red, and purple.

Upright and Creeping Types

Low-growing, spreading varieties of cotoneaster work well as woody groundcovers. Such plants typically feature stems that arch, cascade, and even grow horizontally. When these stems touch the ground, they often root. This characteristic helps cotoneaster form dense colonies with an ability to choke out weeds. Less common upright types of cotoneaster feature all the same characteristics but can be trained as hedges. Many of these species are evergreen or semi-evergreen in warmer climates, which means they can create long-lasting attractive screens.

Cotoneaster Care Must-Knows

Cotoneaster is known for handling tough conditions, including poor soil. For best results, however, plant cotoneaster in average, well-drained soil. Keep this plant from staying too wet, as rot can be a problem.

When planted in full sun, cotoneaster develops the densest branching, deepest green foliage, and largest amount of flowers and berries. Full sun also promotes the best showing of fall color. While this plant won't be at its best when planted in part shade, it will still manage to flower and bear fruit. Some cotoneasters can survive in conditions that border on full shade.

More Varieties of Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster Overview

Genus Name Cotoneaster
Common Name Cotoneaster
Plant Type Shrub
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 5 to 15 feet
Flower Color Pink, Red, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Colorful Fall Foliage, Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom, Winter Interest
Special Features Attracts Birds, Low Maintenance
Zones 4, 5, 6, 7
Propagation Layering, Seed, Stem Cuttings
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcover, Slope/Erosion Control

Cotoneaster dammeri

Cotoneaster dammeri
Denny Schrock

Cotoneaster dammeri is a low growing, spreading variety that makes a great groundcover. White flowers lead to red berries. Zones 5-8

Cotoneaster divaricatus

Cotoneaster divaricatus

Cotoneaster divaricatus is an upright form of cotoneaster that works well as a hedge. White flowers turn to red berries in the fall with lasting fall color. Zones 4-7

Cotoneaster lucidus

Cotoneaster lucidus
Marty Baldwin

Cotoneaster lucidus is a shrub variety which tolerates shaping, making it an excellent hedge. Small pink blooms give way to dark red, almost black, berries in fall. Zones 3-7

Cotoneaster procumbens

Cotoneaster procumbens
Marty Baldwin

Cotoneaster procumbens spreads to 6 feet wide but only 4 inches tall. The dark green foliage shows tinges of purple when young. It has white flowers in summer. Zones 6-8

Rockspray cotoneaster

Rockspray cotoneaster

Cotoneaster horizontalis offers a straight-as-an-arrow branch pattern, pink flowers, and purplish fall color. It grows 3 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Zones 5-7

Cranberry cotoneaster

Cranberry cotoneaster
Marty Baldwin

Cotoneaster apiculatus forms shrubby, 3-foot-tall mounds of dense, dark green foliage, with long-lasting red berries in fall and winter. Zones 4-7

Creeping cotoneaster

Creeping cotoneaster
Peter Krumhardt

Cotoneaster adpressus features large, showy fruit and a mounding habit, making it a favorite of gardeners. It grows 1 foot tall and 6 feet wide. Zones 4-6

Garden Plans for Cotoneaster

Garden Design for a Deck

deck garden plan illustration
Illustration by Eric Flynn

A garden design featuring easy-to-grow shrubs and perennials enhances this deck and helps it blend into the garden.

Click here to get this garden plan!

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