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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pyracantha Propagation (Firethorn)

While out of town this past weekend at my in-laws home I took the opportunity to take more cuttings from their pyracantha (Pyracanthus augustifolia). It is a favorite of birds due to its bright orange berries and is has an appropriately named common name: Firethorn.

Firethorn berries

Firethorn's thorns are quite sharp and offer the plant good protection from would be herbaceous plant munchers, like deer and rabbits, not to mention plant propagators! It is a challenge to take cuttings from but if you're careful you can get by with minimal or if you're really lucky no damage. Pyracantha would make a great plant for security reasons around windows as would roses and hollies. It is also commonly trained into espalier. Last year I managed to root two cuttings of Firethorn but sadly they died over the winter as I made the mistake of leaving them unprotected outside. I thought they were hardened off enough but apparently I was wrong. Live and learn, or die and learn I guess! I'll keep these cuttings in the garage greenhouse until the spring freezes have finished.

Pyracanthus augustifolia thorn

Here's what I did. I cut several 12-16 inch branches off the main plant. Each of the branches had several variations in ripeness. The base was nearly hardwood while the tip was soft greenwood and the middle was...well...somewhere in between! Each branch was then divided into three to four sections about 5-6 inches long. The cuttings should root a little differently since they are all at different stages of ripeness. I stripped the cuttings of most of the leaves and thorns then dipped them in rooting hormone and stuck them in the sand. I used a cheap plastic container that was about 6 inches square to hold the cuttings. I ended up with 14 cuttings in the small container. There's proof that you can do a large amount of cuttings in a small space! I don't really need fourteen pyracantha cuttings but since I was pruning some of the outer branches out of a walkway it was either root them or toss them. I hope you're not surprised which choice I made. Besides it is unlikely that all the cuttings will root but wouldn't it be fun if they did!

For more plant propagation information check out this post.

Don't forget about the Garden Blogger Fall Color project when the colors near you are at their peak! Click on the picture below for more information.


  1. Yup, pretty lethal on the thorns. Such pretty berries. I wish I could grow it but not enough sun here.

  2. The common name of the plant is actually "orange berry bush."

  3. I wish I could grow them in northern Illinois. I had one in Alabama and really liked it.

    When I lived in Huntsville, there was a several year-long series of breaking and entering. I used to hear people talk about planting these under easily accessible windows to discourage that type of thing;)

  4. We have a scraggly one that the Saint and I keep fighting over. He wants to cut it down and I say leave it alone, it is not hurting a thing where it is located. He says it hits him when he mows. Funny thing is he only mows that area about 2 times a year so what does he care. Plus he gets worse scratches from our cats and he does not throw them into the compost pile! lol... So far, I have won this battle… hee hee…

  5. That is such a pretty berry plant. Firethorn is a good name for it.

  6. Beautiful plant Dave. I wish you good luck with these cuttings. I think the berries make the plant & I think they are food for birds. I saw one in N.C. that had grown to the top of their house encompassing their chimney. Boy, was it ever so pretty when the berries were on it. It seems to be pretty cold hardy. I would like to have one but the thorns & kids don't mix. Not my GGGsons anyway.

  7. I like this plant a lot and could see it espaliered on this one particular sunny wall! Do you know where you will plant in your garden?

  8. I cried when I left my pyracantha behind. I had worked and trained that baby to climb up and across my entryway. I placed it far enough from the steps so no one would get hurt. The berries were stunning in the fall and winter. It attracted birds like crazy. I sure miss it. This is a great post!

    I like how blogs are showing up in your sidebar!

  9. Great write up, Pyracantha is one of my favourite shrubs and look brilliant in winter when in berry. You can make a jelly out of the berries as well but be sure to use the red berries as they seem to taste the best.


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