Contoneaster are a flowering plant from the rose family, Rosaceae, closely related to hawthorns, firethorns, photinias and rowans. There are around 300 species of Cotoneaster, with some of the varieties differing hugely due to the versatility of this plant. There are evergreen, semi-evergreen and deciduous varieties; some are ground-coverers and some can be trained flat against a wall; while others grow to be substantial shrubs, or even small trees.
Cotoneaster flowers are produced in late spring through early summer, and can emerge as solitary flowers or clustered together in masses, depending on the variety. The flowers are flat-petalled and flushed with various shades ranging from, fluffy white through creamy white, to light pink and dark pink, and sometimes even showcasing red tones. The fruit develops later in the year, as pink, bright red or orange berries; often even displaying darker shades of maroon or black when mature. Fruit on certain varieties is long-lasting and can adorn the branches until the following year, giving great winter interest. Some varieties are also known for their branches, with weeping Cotoneasters boasting slender, arching branches and others producing an attractive ‘herringbone’ pattern with their branches.
These dense shrubs are commonly used for landscaping and have a huge wildlife interest, with the flowers attracting both bees and butterflies and the fruits being eaten by birds. Cotoneasters are also known for being popular amongst moths.
The height and spread differs largely across the species, with the estimated height and spread in 20 years ranging from 1.5 x 1 metres to 6 x 4 metres in the selection of Cotoneasters offered on our website.
Cotoneasters are suited to most soils, often even growing well in dry and shady positions. They require little pruning, which can be done at any time during the year, and even when they do become slightly overgrown, you can cut them back, removing dead branches without fear of damaging the future growth of the plant.
For more information about pruning or planting advice, take a look at our help page, or click here to see our range of planting essentials to help you establish your Cotoneaster and maintain a healthy shrub.