Firethorn (Pyracantha)

Quick facts and care essentials

Shrubs

• Semievergreen
• Zones vary
• Full sun or partial shade
• Moderate watering

Grown for its bright red, orange, or yellow fruits and its deep green foliage, fast-growing firethorn ranks high on the list of popular shrubs. All its forms have small, glossy leaves, and most have needlelike thorns; creamy white spring blossoms are followed by thick clusters of pea-size berries that provide vivid color in fall and winter and attract birds. Limber branches make firethorn a good candidate for growing against a fence, mounding over uneven terrain, or espaliering. Cold resistance varies, so purchase plants locally or ask about hardiness if you're buying by mail.

Firethorn takes ordinary soil and grows well in sun or partial shade. It is prone to fireblight, especially in humid areas. For best success, buy disease-resistant varieties such as 'Apache'.