Quick facts and care essentials
• Deciduous or evergreen shrubby ground cover
• Zones vary
• Full sun or partial shade
• Moderate watering
Rugged and undemanding, cotoneasters provide clusters of small white or pale pink flowers in spring and bright red fruits (enjoyed by birds) in fall and winter. They grow well in good soil with regular moisture, but also tolerate poor soil and moderate water. Give them room to spread, since frequent pruning spoils their shape. The species listed below have small (1/2- to 1-inch) oval leaves. Space all three 3 to 5 feet apart.
Creeping cotoneaster (C. adpressus). Zones 1-24, 29-43. Deciduous. Good as a bank cover, this species hugs the ground, spreading slowly to 4 to 6 feet and remaining under 1 foot tall.
Evergreen bearberry cotoneaster (C. dammeri). Zones 2-24, 29-41. Fast growing, forming a prostrate mat 3 to 6 inches tall and 10 feet wide.
Rock cotoneaster (C. horizontalis). Zones 2-11, 14-24, 31-41. Deciduous. A moderately fast grower, reaching 2 to 3 feet tall and 15 feet wide. Its stiff, horizontal branches form a flat herringbone pattern.