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Scarlet Firethorn, Pyracantha (Pyracantha coccinea)



Authors as Published

Alex X. Niemiera, Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech (first published May 2009, last reviewed March 2024)


Foliage: Evergreen broadleaf Height: 15 +feet

Spread: 15 feet

Shape: Spreading – can get wild (sprawling) if not pruned

Pyracantha is a large, fast-growing shrub has showy white blooms in spring and a spectacular display of orange/red fruit in the fall. This plant requires pruning since unpruned plants are very rangy looking. Stems have very sharp thorns, thus pruning this plant must be performed with caution. Plants should be not situated where children or pedestrians may encounter stems.

Plant Needs:

Zone: 6b to 9 Light: Partial shade to full sun Moisture: Wet, moist, or dry

Soil Type: Sandy, loam, or clay pH Range: 3.7 to 7.0


Suggested uses for this plant include border, hedge, foundation, accent plant, espalier, & barrier.

Planting Notes:

Plant in an area that will accommodate the large size of this species (unless pruned yearly)


Pruning can be done anytime and is needed to train this plant in desired manner. Provide strong support (or anchors) when grown on a wall.


Planting in fertile soil will produce rampant growth, which makes plant susceptible to fireblight and low berry production.

Scab turns fruit a dark color.

Lacebug and red spider mite can be problems.


Consult local sources, including historic or public gardens and arboreta, regarding cultivars and related species that grow well in your area.

Cultivars of Pyracantha coccinea:

`Rutgers' is a hardy, low-growing hybrid with orange-red fruit, and good disease resistance (3 feet high by 9 feet wide).

`Fiery Cascade' has small red fruit and is a disease resistant and hardy (8 feet high by 9 feet wide) hybrid.

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Publication Date

March 7, 2024