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How to Plant & Care for Cotoneaster

By M.H. Dyer ; Updated September 21, 2017

Although some types of cotoneaster grow to be fairly tall, the most common varieties are used as low-growing shrubs that can sprawl outward to a width of 10 feet. Cotoneaster bushes have attractive, dark green leaves and are often used in mass plantings or as a ground cover. In early summer, cotoneaster will bloom in tiny, pale pink flowers followed by showy red berries. Cotoneasters are a low-maintenance plant and can grow in nearly any soil.

Plant a cotoneaster where it will get at least four to six hours of sunlight per day. Dig a large hole about twice the width of the root ball and about as deep as the cotoneaster’s container. Mix a shovelful of manure or compost into the reserved soil.

Pull the bush carefully out of its container, and gently spread out the roots with your fingers. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap, fold down or cut away the top of the burlap, and make sure it doesn’t poke out of the soil after the bush is planted because it can wick moisture away from the root ball. If the root ball is wrapped in synthetic burlap, try to remove as much of the material as possible.

Set the bush in the bottom of the hole. Fill the hole with the reserved soil and tamp the soil down lightly. Spread a three-inch layer of mulch around the bush, but don’t let it pile up against the trunk or leaves. Water the cotoneaster deeply.

Give cotoneaster about an inch of water per week, or slightly more in hot, dry weather. The soil should be moist but never soggy.

Feed cotoneaster every spring with a fertilizer low in nitrogen. Look on the label for the numbers 5-10-10 or 5-10-5, and apply according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Prune cotoneaster only as needed to control growth and to restore the plant’s natural shape. Trim the tips of the branches, and remove any dead or weak branches.


Things You Will Need

  • Cotoneaster bush
  • Shovel
  • Compost or manure
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears

About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.