A hardy group of robust, deciduous/evergreen shrubs and small trees. Prized for their blanket covering of attractive spring flowers, bright autumn berries and colourful autumn leaves. The berries are toxic for humans but loved by birds.

Family: Rosaceae (rose family)
Botanical Name: Cotoneaster
Common Names:

Foliage: Simple deciduous or evergreen glossy leaves. Most forms also provide good autumn colour.

Flowers: Clusters of pretty small white or pink flowers, followed by red, purple or black berries in late autumn.

Flowering Period: Late spring and summer (May, June)

Soil: Well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Any pH.

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Can be grown in a north, south, east or west-facing aspect, in a sheltered or exposed location.

Habit: Bushy or spreading.

Type: Spreading shrub or small tree.

Origin: Europe, North Africa, China and northern Asia.

Toxicity: The berries are toxic if ingested.

Hardiness: Fully hardy in the UK.

Growing Cotoneaster

Grow in sun or partial shade, in any good, well drained, garden soil. Although very common, it is tolerant of poor conditions and has good drought resistance once established.

Deciduous species grow well in full sun and evergreens are shade tolerant. Shrubby forms are suitable for hedging and prostrate forms good for ground cover. They can even be trained up a wall or across a bank.

Taking Care of Cotoneaster

Water thoroughly during dry weather until well established.

Pruning Cotoneaster

Pruning is not normally necessary except to shape or restrict growth, in late winter or early spring. Many forms can be pruned hard in spring for rejuvenation.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to attack by aphids and brown scale. Can be affected by fireblight, which can blacken and wither the flowers and foliage. Honey fungus kills these plants quickly.

Propagating Cotoneaster

Seed can be sown outdoors in spring, although cultivars will not come true to type. Most species self seed easily.

Semi-ripe cuttings can be taken in late summer. Low growing forms can be layered.

Popular Varieties of Cotoneaster

A wide variety of forms are available, ranging from low growing mat forming groundcover to upright shrubs and small trees.

Note: Many non-native species of cotoneaster are extremely invasive and as such are listed under the UK's 'Wildlife and Countryside Act', Section 9, which makes it illegal to plant or allow the spread of these cotoneaster species into the wild. These include: Cotoneaster bullatus, Cotoneaster horizontalis, Cotoneaster integrifolius, Cotoneaster microphyllus and Cotoneaster simonsii.

Evergreens and Semi-evergreens

Cotoneaster conspicuus (Tibetan cotoneaster) a slow growing evergreen form with arching branches, covered with white flowers in summer, followed by red fruits. Height to 6ft (1.8m). One of the best cultivars 'Decorus' has gained the RHS Award of Garden Merit.

Cotoneaster 'Coral Beauty' a small spreading evergreen shrub with dark green leaves. Tiny pinkish-white flowers appear in May followed by bright red Autumn berries. The leaves often turn orange-red in the autumn. The branches form a pretty herringbone pattern which looks great when grown flat against a wall or as ground-cover. Available at Gardening Express. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Cotoneaster 'Cornubia' a strong-growing, deciduous hybrid with large berries. A tall shrub or tree with arching branches and creamy white flowers in June, followed by heavy clusters of brilliant red berries. Semi-evergreen in mild areas. Height and spread up to 20ft (6m).

Cotoneaster dammeri an evergreen prostrate shrub that provides good ground cover. This vigorous plant that will eventually cover a large area with dark green glossy foliage. White flowers in June, followed by red berries. Spreads easily from rooted branches. Tolerant of a wide range of conditions, including dry soil. Available at Thompson & Morgan. Available at Gardening Express.

Cotoneaster franchetii is ideal for a colourful, informal hedge and is easily pruned. Deep orange berries in autumn. Height to 10ft (3m). Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Cotoneaster hybridus pendulus (weeping cotoneaster) can be grown as a weeping tree with pendulous shoots down to ground level, clothed in glossy green leaves. White flower clusters in June followed by red berries in autumn. Height to 7ft (2.1m), spread to 5ft (1.5m).

Cotoneaster salicifolius (willow-leaved cotoneaster) is a drought-tolerant form with long narrow leaves. Evergreen or semi-evergreen, low-growing and spreading. Height to 1.5ft (45cm), spread to 12ft (3.5m). Good cultivars include: 'Autumn Fire' with good glossy green leaves and small June flowers, followed by bright orange-red berries. 'Rothschildianus' (yellow berried cotoneaster) has green leaves and white flowers in June, followed by clusters of deep-yellow berries in autumn.


Cotoneaster adpressus 'Little Gem' is a vigorous, low growing, deciduous shrub with green foliage. Covered with white flowers in summer and red berries and leaves in autumn. Good prostrate ground cover. Ideal for growing in rockeries and borders or cascading down banks and low walls. Height to 18in (45cm), spread to 6ft (2m). Available at Van Meuwen. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Cotoneaster divaricatus (spreading cotoneaster) is a upright, densely branched, deciduous shrub. An attractive species with glossy green leaves, dark red autumn fruits and good autumn foliage colour. Height to 6ft (1.8m), spread to 8ft (2.4m).

Cotoneaster Horizontalis Variegata is a small spreading deciduous shrub that produces glossy, white edged, dark green leaves. Tiny pinkish-white flowers appear in May, followed by bright red Autumn berries. The leaves turn orange-red before they fall. A good low maintenance plant. Excellent when grown flat against a wall or as groundcover. Height up to 39in (100cm), spread to 59in (150cm). Available at Gardening Express. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Cotoneaster lucidus (Peking Cotoneaster) is dense shrub with dark green, foliage. Covered in a mass of pink-white flowers in spring followed by black berries. The leaves turn a fiery red/orange in the autumn. Excellent as a tall hedge or it can easily be pruned lower. Height to 10ft (3m). Available at Thompson & Morgan.