For bright orange colored berries in the garden during the fall and winter you can’t beat firethorn. The berries (actually a fruit related to an apple) can persist into winter and are beautiful in fall arrangements if you can beat the birds to them. The birds not only love the berries but also find the plants good for roosting and nesting. This evergreen shrub is vigorous, fast growing, and disease resistant, and is especially valued as an espalier on a wall. Of course, espalier involves a lot of pruning and the 1-3” thorns make that quite a painful task. The good news is that the thorns make this shrub valuable for discouraging intruders when planted as a hedge.
Type: Evergreen shrub.
Bloom: Small white flowers are borne in dense clusters in spring; clusters of orange berries appear in fall.
Size: 6-15’ H x 6-10’ W.
Light: Full sun to part shade but growing in shade may diminish the production of flowers and berries.
Soil: Average, moist to dry well-drained.
Fertilizer: Over fertilization may result in diminished flower and fruit production.
Hardiness: Zones 5-9.
Care: Because of vigor, plants must be pruned regularly, preferably in spring after flowers or berries are set. If severe pruning is necessary, do so in early spring.
Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to lace bugs and aphids but these are generally not a problem. Cut out twigs that have fire blight being careful not to spread the disease.
Outstanding Selections: ‘Mohave’ (early blooming, 6-8” tall, hardy zones 6-9, and more disease resistant than most other cultivars).