Cranberry Cotoneaster Facts: Learn How To Grow A Cranberry Cotoneaster

Cranberry Cotoneaster Facts: Learn How To Grow A Cranberry Cotoneaster

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By: Teo Spengler

Growing cranberry cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculatus) brings a low, lovely splash of color to the backyard. If these shrubs sound good to you, read on for more cranberry cotoneaster facts and tips on how to grow a cranberry cotoneaster.

Cranberry Cotoneaster Facts

Cranberry cotoneaster plants are one of the low-growing cotoneaster varieties, rising only knee-high, but spreading three times that wide. The long stems grow in arching mounds and work well as groundcover. Additionally, they make one heck of an ornamental shrub. The leaves are small but an attractive glossy green, and the shrubs look lush during the growing season.

Flowers are tiny and pinkish-white. When the entire bush is in bloom, the blossoms are attractive, but even at their peak, the bloom is not dramatic. However, its the bright berries, the size and color of cranberries, that give the plant both their name and popularity. The berry crop is dense and covers the entire mound of foliage, hanging on the branches well into winter.

How to Grow a Cranberry Cotoneaster

If you are wondering how to grow a cranberry cotoneaster, the shrubs thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 7. Growing cranberry cotoneaster in other zones is not recommended.

You’ll be happy to hear that cranberry cotoneaster care is easy if you site them appropriately. Situate cranberry cotoneaster plants in full sun if possible, although they will also grow in partial shade.

As far as soil, you’ll have an easier time with cranberry cotoneaster care if you plant the shrubs in moist, well-drained soil. On the other hand, these are tough shrubs that can tolerate poor soils and urban pollution as well.

The most important part of cranberry cotoneaster care occurs immediately after transplant. When you first start growing cranberry cotoneaster, you’ll need to irrigate the plants well to help them develop a strong root system. As they mature, they become more drought resistant.

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Cranberry Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster apiculatus)


Low-growing shrub with glossy green leaves that turn bronze-red in autumn. White to pale-pink flowers bloom in late spring and early summer. The blooms are followed by decorative red fruit that may persist throughout winter.

Lovely groundcover, for slopes, or drift throughout the mixed border. Great for erosion control on steep banks and rough slopes. Looks great in rock gardens.

Plant Feed

Slow release feed in spring.


Water regularly until established.

Ordinary, well-drained soil.

Basic Care Summary

Very easy to grow in virtually any location. Plant in ordinary, well-drained soil. Tolerates drought, but looks best with regular watering. Trim back as needed.

Planting Instructions

Plant in spring or early fall to give plants the best start.

Choose a location that will allow roots to spread and branches to grow freely. Space plants far enough from building foundations, walls, and decks so that the growing foliage won't crowd the structure. Consider whether tall trees or shrubs will block windows or interfere with the roof or power lines.

To prepare the planting area dig a hole as deep as the root ball and three times as wide. After removing the soil, mix it with some compost or peat moss. This enriches the soil and loosens the existing dirt so that new roots can spread easily.

To remove the plant from the container, gently brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot. The container can also be removed by carefully cutting it down the side.

Set the plant in the hole. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap fabric this must now be removed along with any string or wire securing the burlap. If roots are tightly packed gently rake them apart with your fingers.

Return the soil to the planting area packing it firmly around the root ball. Fill the hole until the soil line is just at the base of the plant, where the roots begin to flare out from the main stem.

Water the plant well then add a 2” (5cm) layer of mulch, such as shredded bark, around the planting area. Keep the mulch at least 4” (10cm) away from the trunk of the plant as this can keep the bark too moist and cause it to decay.

Watering Instructions

Depending on rainfall, new plants need to be watered weekly through the first growing season. A slow, one-hour trickle of water should do the job. During hot spells thoroughly soaking the ground up to 8” (20 cm) every few days is better than watering a little bit daily. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance.

To check for soil moisture use your finger or a hand trowel to dig a small hole and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.

Monitor new plants through the first two years to make sure they are getting the moisture they need. After that they should be sturdy enough to survive on their own.

Fertilizing Instructions

Established trees should be fertilized every 2-3 years. Feed in early spring when plants start growing.

Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product designed for trees and shrubs, or go with a nutritionally balanced, general-purpose formula such as 10-10-10.

Always follow the fertilizer package directions for application rates and scheduling. Over-fertilizing plants or applying at the wrong time during the growing season can result in plant injury.

Pruning Instructions

Pruning may be needed to remove dead branches, encourage bushier growth, promote more flowers, or maintain a specific size or shape.

Dead branches should be removed close to the trunk, flush with the bark. When pruning to control a plant's size or shape, cuts should be made just above a leaf bud and at a slight angle. This bud will be where the new growth sprouts.

Many shrubs can be regularly sheared to keep them shaped as a hedge, edging or formal foundation planting.

Always use sharp, clean tools when pruning. There are many tools available depending on the job. Hand shears, pruners, and loppers are ideal for most shrubs. Pole pruners and tree saws are better for large, mature shrubs or trees. If a tree is so large that it can't be safely pruned with a pole pruner, it is best to call in a professional tree service.

Plant Finder

Cranberry Cotoneaster fruit

Cranberry Cotoneaster fruit

Cranberry Cotoneaster flowers

Cranberry Cotoneaster flowers

Certainly one of the most popular medium sized groundcovers, a mounded spreading shrub with dense, tightly held branches pretty pink flowers in spring along the branches, followed by striking red fruit in fall, a versatile plant for general landscape use

Cranberry Cotoneaster is primarily grown for its highly ornamental fruit. It features an abundance of magnificent red berries from late summer to late fall. It features tiny clusters of pink flowers along the branches in late spring. It has dark green foliage throughout the season. The tiny glossy round leaves turn an outstanding brick red in the fall.

Cranberry Cotoneaster is a multi-stemmed deciduous shrub with a shapely form and gracefully arching branches. It lends an extremely fine and delicate texture to the landscape composition which should be used to full effect.

This shrub will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and should not require much pruning, except when necessary, such as to remove dieback. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Cranberry Cotoneaster is recommended for the following landscape applications

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Groundcover

Cranberry Cotoneaster will grow to be about 3 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 5 feet. It tends to fill out right to the ground and therefore doesn't necessarily require facer plants in front. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 30 years.

This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist growing conditions, but will not tolerate any standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This species is not originally from North America.

Cotoneaster Features: An Overview

  • Cotoneaster species are either prostate or large plants. The prostate species are usually alpine plants that occur at high elevations of 9.800-13.100 feet (3.000-4000 m), while the larger ones grow in woodland gaps and scrubs at lower elevations.
  • The species from the Cotoneaster genus are shrubs or small trees that can reach between 1.6 and 16.4 feet (0.5-5 m) in height.
  • These plants produce long shoots that measure from 3.9 to 15.7 inches (10-40 cm) in length and also shorter shoots of 0.20 to 2 inches (0.5-5 cm).
  • The overall growth of branches is structural and appears on the long shoots, while the shorter ones produce lovely flowers. This pattern of branching often develops a ‘herringbone’ form.
  • Their ovate to lanceolate leaves are alternately arranged on stems. Depending on the species, their size can vary and ranges from 0.2 to 5.9 inches (0.5-15 cm) in length.
  • During their blooming period, from late spring to early summer, Cotoneaster plants exhibit solitary or corymb inflorescences of up to 100 flowers. They have five petals that can be half or fully open.
  • Their blooms are very small and come in various shades of white to creamy white, light to dark pink, and even reddish. Sometimes, their foliage can turn into a beautiful mix of red and pink.
  • Cotoneaster plants bear fruits that can resist, on some species, until the following year. They are small pomes of 0.2 to 0.5 inches (5-12 mm) in diameter and tinged orange, bright red, pink, or maroon to black when ripe.
  • Their fruits contain one to three seeds (sometimes five) that can be collected in autumn and used in propagation. The seeds germinate easily in warm and shaded locations.

A Host of Attractive Features

Hardy and highly versatile, I love cotoneasters for the yeoman’s work they bring to a garden or yard.

Easily cultivated and drought resistant once established, they have a host of attractive features, from deep green foliage and delicate flowers to bright berries and fantastic fall colors.

The prostrate varieties are tough little shrubs that make handsome ground covers, creeping and spilling over container sides, retaining walls, and rockeries. And the upright cultivars are superb as hedges or specimen shrubs and add vivid splashes of color when grown against fences and walls.

Whatever type you grow full sun brings out the best berries and brightest leaf colors!

Are you growing cotoneaster? Let us know in the comments section below, and feel free to share a picture!

And for more information about growing shrubs in your garden, check out these articles next:

Photos by Lorna Kring © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

About Lorna Kring

A writer, artist, and entrepreneur, Lorna is also a long-time gardener who got hooked on organic and natural gardening methods at an early age. These days, her vegetable garden is smaller to make room for decorative landscapes filled with color, fragrance, art, and hidden treasures. Cultivating and designing the ideal garden spot is one of her favorite activities – especially for gathering with family and friends for good times and good food (straight from the garden, of course)!

Watch the video: Cotoneaster Bonsai


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