How to Grow and Care for Pyracantha

Widely known as firethorn. Pyracantha is a thorny evergreen shrub that produces yellow, orange, and bright red like pomes. The plant originates from Southern Europe spread through the Mediterranean area into East Asia.

Preparing to plant pyracantha

1. Select the right cultivar

Select a cultivar that meets your taste. There are few disease-resistant cultivars such as Pueblo, Shawnee, Fiery, Mohave, Teton, Rutgers, Apache, Cascade, and Navaho. Below are a few cultivars.

  • Lowboy – grows 2 to 3 feet tall and can spread out further. The species produces weak orange berries, and it’s prone to diseases.
  • Gnome – grows six tall and 8 feet wide and produces orange berries. It is resistant to cold weather and highly susceptible to diseases.
  • Teton – grows well during cold climate. It grows 12 feet tall and 4 feet wide. It has golden yellow berries.
  • Apache – grows 6 feet wide and 5 feet high. The species produces bright red berries.
  • Mohave – grows up to the width and height of 12 feet. Its berries are orange-red.
  • Fiery – its berries are orange and can gradually turn red. It grows 8 feet high and 9 feet wide.

2. Plant in spring or autumn

The most appropriate time to plant pyracantha is during autumn. If the season passes then, you can try planting during early spring.

3. Chose a spot with full sunshine

For the plant to blossom appropriately, plant pyracantha in an area that receives full sunlight. Some cultivars can grow in partial shade areas.

4. Find a garden with well-drained soil

The plant can grow in a variety of soils. In this case, you want the best, thus its good to choose a well-drained fertile soil. Highly nutritious soils can also make the plant too bushy, making it susceptible to diseases such as fire blight. Diseases weaken the plant’s output. The plant works well in neutral to slightly acidic soils with a pH of 5 to 8.

5. Train the plant towards a wall or fence

The plant is likely to spread out wide if not trained against a fence or high surface. Due to dangerous thorns, train the plant to grow tall instead of wide to keep the thorns out of reach. Don’t plant the pyracantha next to a painted wall, gate, or doorway to avoid its thorns and leaves. Ensure the tree is not too near to the walls to avoid causing problems.

How to Transplant the Pyracantha Shrub

1. Dig a large hole twice the root ball

Using a shovel, dig a hole. The hole should be twice the size of the container holding the plant. The depth should not exceed that of the container. It’s essential to buy a shovel since you will need it more than once.

2. Removing the plant from the container

First, tip container on all sides. Using the shovel, glide it around the container’s perimeter. The root mass and soil will loosen up. Gently remove the pyracantha by applying pressure on the bottom of the container while pressing sides of the container.

3. Transfer the plant to the planting hole

Carefully put the pyracantha in the middle of the planting hole. Ensure the plant is placed the same depth as it was in the container since surrounding the stem with too much soil can weaken it. Fill the hole with soil.

4. Adding fertilizer

Using your hands, sprinkle a small amount of organic fertilizer such as bone meal to the soil around the plant. Using a garden folk, mix the compost with the soil gently. The advantage of adding bone meal is that it provides phosphorus to the soil to enable root development.

5. Spacing the pyracantha

If you are planting multiple plants, ensure you plant each shrub 2 to 3 feet apart. This is to avoid creating a thick hedge.

6. Water the plant continuously

During the first month, you should water the plant regularly so that it can firmly establish itself in the soil. Water the area around the plant each day if it doesn’t rain. Ensure the soil is not too soaked. Also, don’t let the soil dry completely.

Caring for the pyracantha

1. Watering

The plant grows in most soils, but one factor that stands out is the moisture content of the soil and its water drainage. Regular watering will help the plant during its initial stages. As the plant establishes itself, start reducing the amount of water that you give the plant.

If the plant starts to shed leaves know that the plant is not receiving enough water. However, if the leaves turn yellowish or its wood becomes soft to reduce the amount of watering since it’s a sign of too much watering.

2. Training Pyracantha

If the plant is near a fence or wall, encourage it to grow upwards. To ensure the plant grows upwards, you can opt to tie its branches with a galvanized coated garden wire. Buying trellis can also do wonders in ensuring the tree grows upwards.

3. Spreading mulch

Providing the pyracantha with mulch at the base can help it hold moisture and prevent roots from weakening due to dryness. Mulch will also protect the plant against frost during winter.

4. Fertilization

Annual fertilization in late winter will help boost growth. Pyracantha requires balanced fertilizers containing potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous. Avoid applying too many nitrogen-based fertilizers since they will make the plant to have many leaves, thus lowering yields and rendering it susceptible to diseases.

5. Pruning

Pruning should occur once the plant blossoms. Shape and thin the plant using anvil pruning loppers during early spring by getting rid of heavy canes. You can remove up to five branches each year depending on the plant size. Never prune more than a third of the plant at any pruning cycle.

6. Pest control

Four types of bests mainly attack pyracantha. These pests are; lace bugs, scales, spider mites, and aphids. If any of the pests attach the plant, treat it with appropriate pesticides. If you want to eat clean and fresh fruits from the plant, it is recommended you use organic pesticides.

7. Disease control

Pyracantha is most likely to be attacked by diseases such as scab and fire blight. Scab is a fungal disease, while fire blight is a bacterial disease. You are advised to prevent diseases early by planting cultivars that are disease resistant. Maintain proper moisture and airflow to reduce infections.

Watch out for the following problems

  • Pruning too much
  • Poor pollination
  • Drought
  • Lack of feeding
  • Lack of vigour
  • Frost


There are various varieties of pyracantha, and you must select the right cultivar for your garden. Ensure you plant is in a well-drained soil where it receives enough sunlight. Prune, water and fertilize the plant appropriately for optimum results.

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