Outdoor Bonsai – Pyracantha

By Ruth Morgan

If you want a colourful evergreen outdoor bonsai then you should consider Pyracantha. It produces a wonderful display of flowers and berries and provides year round colour.

Pyracantha berries

The leaves are dark green and narrow and contrast with the small white to cream flowers which are abundant in late spring and summer. The flowers form in clusters and stand out like white sparklers all over the tree.

Then in late summer and autumn the berries develop and these can be red, orange or yellow in colour. These colours, along with the long sharp thorns on the branches are the reason why the common name of the shrub is Firethorn.

Pyracantha thrives in full sun but can cope with some shade. Some species e.g. Pyracantha coccinea are more hardy than others in winter and can survive frosts. However, it is advisable to protect them from very cold winds and temperatures below -5 degrees Centigrade. Less hardy species should be given winter protection.

Once established, Pyracantha should be repotted every 2 or 3 years in the spring. The soil should be kept moist all year round.

The old wood can be pruned early in the spring or after flowering. Too much pruning after flowering will have a detrimental effect on the display of fruit.

The branches can be wired and they respond better when they are green and young. During their second year the branches become brittle and they are more difficult to wire.

Use a balanced feed prior to flowering and then stop when the flowers appear. A low nitrogen fertiliser should be used after the flowering season.

Finally, a couple of tips. You can cut off the sharp tips of the thorns to make working on the bonsai tree easier and to encourage bud growth. Ensure that the branches are well spaced so that you can see the berries that hang below the branches.

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