Cotoneasters are popular shrubs for home landscaping. They're easy to grow, making them ideal for the novice gardener. Cotoneasters are available in a variety of sizes from two-foot border plants to six-foot windscreens, but all will bloom in late spring or early summer. In fall and winter, the shrub will be covered with masses of red berries that will brighten dark winter days and keep hungry birds happy for weeks. Although cotoneasters usually don't need drastic pruning, regular maintenance will keep them looking their best.
Remove all dead or damaged branches in early spring, and prune out about one-third of the old growth. This will result in healthy, young branches and robust blooms during the summer.
Remove any droopy branches or branches that are brushing against the ground. If these are left alone, they will eventually develop roots that will grow into new bushes, or suckers, that will draw water and nutrients away from the original plant. If the branches have already begun to take root, pull them out.
Give cotoneaster a light pruning any time of year. Shape the plant by removing any longer branches that are growing above the rest or that make the bush look lopsided, and get rid of any stems that look weak or damaged. This will keep the shrub in an attractive shape and will prevent the need for more drastic pruning later. It will also improve air circulation to the plant.
Prune cotoneaster after it's finished blooming for the summer. Cut the just-flowered branches down by half and cut the oldest, tallest growth clear down to within 10 inches of the ground. Remove any branches that are growing inward instead of branching outward, as well as any branches that are rubbing together. This will ensure that younger growth will be healthy and vigorous.