They are native to an area extending from Southwest Europe east to Southeast Asia. They resemble and are related to Cotoneaster, but have serrated leaf margins and numerous thorns (Cotoneaster is thorn-less).
The plants reach up to 4.5 m tall. Leaves are small and oval. The seven species have small white flowers which are numerous and many stamened. Fruit are either red, orange or yellow berries. The flowers are produced during late spring and early summer; the berries develop from late summer, and mature in late autumn
Pyracantha is an evergreen tree, capable of growing to 18 feet in height. It is adorned with exquisite white blooms in the spring; these give way to orange-red berries in the fall. Their rate of growth is slow when placed in bonsai pots. The tree is very hardy, but should be protected from extremely cold winds, or leaf damage will occur.
Water the tree to keep the soil moist at all times. More frequent watering will be necessary during the growing season. If the soil is allowed to dry out during hot spells, the leaves will wilt. Prune out old branches in the spring before new growth emerges. Prune new growth to desired shape throughout the year. After flowering, trim back new growth to shape. Pruning heavily too late in the season will remove buds for the following year’s flowers. Frost in late spring can damage flowers. Heavy rain during flowering can prevent flowers from setting and no berries will be produced.
Pyracantha is tolerant of wiring, and this is best carried out on young, more flexible branches. It is not friendly having long very sharp thorns.
The tree is susceptible to pests, especially aphids. Be vigilant and prepared to treat the plant with insecticide at the first appearance of aphids. The biggest threat to the plants health is the fire blight fungus. The fungus is transmitted from plant to plant by the leaf hopper insect. To minimize the risk of fungal transmission, it may be advisable to keep only a single specimen of the tree.
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