Authors as Published

Alex X. Niemiera, Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture

(Pyracantha coccinea)


Foliage: Evergreen broadleaf

Height: 15+ feet

Spread: 15 feet

Shape: Spreading – can get wild (sprawling) if not pruned

Pyracantha is a large, fast-growing shrub has showy white blooms in spring and a spectacular display of orange/red fruit in the fall. This plant requires pruning since unpruned plants are very rangy looking. Stems have very sharp thorns, thus pruning this plant must be performed with caution. Plants should be not situated where children or pedestrians may encounter stems.

Plant Needs:

Zone: 6b to 9

Light: Partial shade to full sun

Moisture: Wet, moist, or dry

Soil Type: Sandy, loam, or clay

pH Range: 3.7 to 7.0


Suggested uses for this plant include border, hedge, foundation, accent plant, espalier, & barrier.

Planting Notes:

Plant in an area that will accommodate the large size of this species (unless pruned yearly)


Pruning can be done anytime and is needed to train this plant in desired manner.

Provide strong support (or anchors) when grown on a wall.


Planting in fertile soil will produce rampant growth, which makes plant susceptible to fireblight and low berry production.

Scab turns fruit a dark color.

Lacebug and red spider mite can be problems.


Consult local sources, including historic or public gardens and arboreta, regarding cultivars and related species that grow well in your area.

Cultivars of Pyracantha coccinea:

`Rutgers' is a hardy, low-growing hybrid with orange-red fruit, and good disease resistance (3 feet high by 9 feet wide).

`Fiery Cascade' has small red fruit and is a disease resistant and hardy (8 feet high by 9 feet wide) hybrid.

There are many cultivars of this species. One should select cultivars based on disease resistance, fruit color, and hardiness.

Related species:

Pyracantha angustifolia Yukon Belle™ is a very hardy cultivar (zone 5) with orange fruit.


Pyracantha can be grown as an espalier against a wall or trellis, but such training is labor intensive.

The primary showy characteristic of this species is its no less than spectacular fruit display for many weeks in the fall. Pruning is difficult due to the many sharp thorns.


This material was developed by Carol Ness as part of the Interactive Design and Development Project funded by the Kellogg Foundation.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Publication Date

May 1, 2009

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