download IMG_4010Firethorn is a thorny evergreen shrub native to southern Europe to western Asia. It is in the rose family, Rosaceae, that also includes apples, meadowsweet, and lady’s mantle. The glossy leaves are hairy beneath when young and have finely toothed margins. Flat panicles of tiny white flowers appear above the branches in late spring and give way to masses of orange to red berries in summer and autumn persisting into winter and sometimes spring. Informal upright, cascade, single or double trunk, and group plantings are the most appropriate styles for firethorn. Growing on a rock is especially effective.

Position: Keep out of doors in full sun as long as possible. Take it indoors in very bad weather or when temperatures fall below 14F. When grown indoors place in sunny window in a cool, unheated area.

Water: Keep soil evenly moist even in winter.

Fertilizer: Feed with balanced fertilizer until flowering begins, stop feeding during flowering, and resume feeding with low-nitrogen fertilizer after flowering

Repotting: Repot every two to three years in spring being especially careful to minimize disturbances to the roots. Both shoots and roots need pruning at the time of repotting.

Soil: Mix of 80% soil and 20% sand

Pruning: Firethorn responds well to aggressive pruning. Prune and remove unwanted branches immediately after flowering for shaping, being careful to avoid removing too many flowering spurs that carry the future fruit. . Enough space should be left between branches , however, to accomadate the flower clusters and fruit. The fruit bearing shoots should be allowed to grow until the fruit has set and then cut back to three or four leaves Pinch only during flowering and when fruit is ripe. Avoid the temptation to remove the thorns as they will produce new branches, then flowers and berries.

Wiring: Wire trunk and branches from spring to autumn.

Propagation: Seed outside in autumn; semi-ripe root cuttings in summer

Notes: Firethorn is susceptible to several problems: aphids, fire blight, scale, spider mites, leaf miners, and caterpillars. Removing the unwanted organism, the using insecticides, and keeping a clean working area are effective control measures.

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By Karen