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Scarlet Firethorn

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

Pyracantha coccinea

The Firethorn is a semi-deciduous shrub, growing to about 4 meters. Native to most of Europe, it is infrequent in the wild, where it exists on the fringes of the forest as it is intolerant of shade and requires high amounts of light. Introduced into gardens around the 16th century, they are widely cultivated for their attractive spring flowers and autumnal fruit.

Pyracantha coccinea, Scarlet Firethorn, Bonsai
Pyracantha coccinea, Scarlet Firethorn, Bonsai

Styles & Sizes: A popular bonsai species in Europe, and is full of charter all year round, from its flowers in spring to its lush green leaves and fruits in summer and bright red berries in autumn. It is best grown as a medium to large bonsai and is mostly available in an informal upright style.

Position: Prefers a full-sun location, though it does not like being in a windy aspect, especially if water is in short supply.

Feeding: Feed with a balanced organic feed, every two weeks if using a liquid feed, every other month if using a pelletised version or after the pellets have fully dissolved away. During the fruiting season, from early spring until the end of summer it will benefit from a weekly dose of an organic feed.

Pyracantha coccinea, Scarlet Firethorn, Bonsai, Autumn
Pyracantha coccinea, Scarlet Firethorn, Bonsai, Autumn

Repotting: In younger specimens grow roots build up rapidly, so they need to be repotted every year. Older trees can be re-potted as necessary, generally, if the growth in the current year is not as healthy as it can be it will benefit from a repotting in the following spring. Use a well-mulched bark, sharp sand, in equal parts. Alternatively, you can use a mix of Akadama and Pumice in equal parts.

Pruning: Prune back current year’s growth to leave 3 lateral shoots or three active nodes. Structural pruning and pruning of thick branches to be undertaken in early spring. Remember that any winter pruning will reduce next seasons flowering buds. To maintain a healthy trunk system, you will need to remove any suckers as they appear.

Wiring: Wire in autumn, and remove the wire before bud break in spring. Leaving wire on longer may result in scarring of the branch.

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