How to Plant & Care for Cotoneaster

Written by sharon sweeny | 13/05/2017

Cotoneasters are versatile shrubs that thrive in a variety of growing conditions. They are hardy to USDA Zone 6 and are not affected by pollution or excessively windy sites. There are many varieties with growth habits ranging from an upright shrub to a prostrate ground cover. Cotoneaster comes in deciduous and evergreen varieties. It grows deep red berries that ripen in late summer and its foliage turns a complementary shade in autumn.

Prepare the planting site. Cotoneasters are not particular about the type of soil they grow in, as long as it is well-drained. They grow in sandy or clay soils that are acid or alkaline. Dig a hole twice as large as the root ball. Add peat moss to help loosen the soil and encourage good drainage. Add about one or two 5-gallon buckets of peat moss to the soil that you removed from the planting hole. Mix together well and use to transplant the cotoneaster.

Add back some of the soil you removed from the planting hole until it is high enough to set the cotoneaster at the same level at which it was growing in the nursery. Backfill the hole. Firm the soil around the roots with your foot, but don't compact it. Form a ridge of soil with your hands around the edge of the planting hole to catch rainwater.

Water your newly transplanted cotoneaster thoroughly. Fill up the indentation from the planting hole twice and let it drain.

Feed every other week with liquid water-soluble plant food until it flowers, and then fertilise monthly during active growth, until the leaves begin to change in fall.

Remove suckers from the base of the plant to keep it well-shaped. Cotoneaster can be pruned at any time during the year.

Mulch for winter protection from freezing temperatures. Cotoneasters are not hardy when temperatures drop into the single digits. Mound leaves over the bush if winter temperatures fall lower than that in your location.


Flowers have a smell reminiscent of rotting fish if smelled at close range.

Tips and warnings

  • Flowers have a smell reminiscent of rotting fish if smelled at close range.

Things you need

  • Garden shovel
  • Peat moss
  • Liquid water-soluble fertiliser

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