A Gardening Journal

Fabulous in the Fall: Teton Pyracantha

Pyracantha fruits are profuse and durable. And they're at their best all fall, while so many other plants slide into winter dullness. Fruits of this Teton cultivar are unusually pale; although some cultivars have yellow fruits, most are deep orange or veering to red.

 

Pyracantha x Teton pomes fingers 121516 640

 

Botanically, pyracantha fruits are pomes, as are fruits of applescotoneasters, hawthorns, quinces, pears, photinias, and whitebeams among them. It would be difficult to design a garden without some pomaceous shrubs or trees. There's a dizzying variety to fruits in general—think how different a crabapple is from a pineapple—and, so, fruit anatomy is a deep silo of minutia even for just the pomes. Basically, the flesh of a pome is largely derived from the flower's supporting structure—a calyx, say—not from the flower itself. And so the greater portion of the fruit forms below the flower itself, which is why the flower's remnants are evident as dried brown bits at the end.

 

Pyracantha x Teton pomes fingers cropped 121516 640

 

Pyracantha leaves are small and shiny. Because the shrub produces new growth so readily in response to pruning, a well-trained pyracantha can have a foliage canopy as dense and finely-worked as that of a boxwood, holly, or yew.

 

Pyracantha x Teton foliage close up 121516 640

 

The challenge with the training needed—and all pyracantha shrubs need some, even if your goal is just a natural-growth look of only average tidiness—is the thorns the branches bear. They are sharp enough to draw blood, and can be largely hidden beneath the foliage.

 

Pyracantha x Teton thorns fingers 121516 640

 

It's a painful irony, then, that the very pruning that pyracantha needs will inevitably increase the density of the foliage and thereby hide the painful thorns all the better. You'll often encounter them first, alas, by touch. The shrub's latin and common names are both a propos, and have nothing to do with what you'd think is this shrub's calling card, its fiery fruits. Pyracantha literally means firethorn; in any language, the pain of being pierced by the thorns is fiery indeed.

 

 

Here's how to grow Teton pyracantha:

 

 

Latin Name

Pyracantha x 'Teton'

Common Name

Teton firethorn; Teton pyracantha

Family

Rosaceae, the Rose family.

What kind of plant is it?

Semi-evergreen shrub

Hardiness

Zones 6 (with thoughtful siting) to 9.

Habit

Twiggy and irregular unless pruned. Teton is normally taller than wide, but could best be described as being merely upright instead of truly columnar. Free-range pyracantha is typically as broad as it is tall.

Rate of Growth

Medium to fast.

Size in ten years

Teton could become sixteen feet high and nine feet wide, but is nearly always kept smaller: either insufficient room was allowed for the thorny branches to grow freely and, so, the shrub needs to be hacked back or, ideally, the shrub is trained to aesthetic ends from the start and the pruning necessary to achieve them conveniently limits the shrub's size in the process.

Texture

Loose and potentially gaunt, especially when growing in shade. Denser when growing in the sun. Density increases as a result of the pruning inherent in size control, let alone training as a hedge, topiary, or espalier: pyracantha forms new branches in response to pruning readily, whether the pruning is light or radical, regular or infrequent. Combined with the relatively small foliage that is also freely produced in response to pruning, shrubs that are pruned regularly can achieve surfaces that, for a time at least, attain architectural perfection—although usually at the expense of the density of the fall display of fruits. See the second "How to handle it" box, below, for options on pruning pyracantha fruitfully.

Grown for

its fruits: small but brightly colorful, and borne in clusters so profuse they can sometimes obscure much of the shrub's foliage, pyracantha fruits make an otherwise thorny and sometimes ugly shrub a must-have. Botanically, the fruits are pomes not berries and, because pyracantha is so widely planted, you can refer to its fruits as pomes even in general conversation without feeling hopelessly geeky. Besides, "pomes" is a fun word to say. Pyracantha pomes are impressively durable, no doubt in part because they remain unpalatable to animals despite their profusion, color, and emergence at a season that can offer increasingly sparse fare. Eventually—usually by February, depending on the weather—repeated freezing and thawing synergize with the pomes' internally-dictated lifespan to cause them to become softer, wrinkly, and palatable. 

 

The pomes mature from dense, profuse clusters of small white flowers borne in mid-Spring. They are only modestly interesting considering the intense floral competition of that season, and also have a musty fragrance. You would never plant pyracantha just for its flowers; they are only the means to the pomy end.

 

See the second "How to handle it" box, below, for how to prune pyracantha to encourage both formation of flowers and pomes while also furthering the shrub's shapely and controlled overall habit. 

 

its disease resistance: the straight species of pyracantha are all variously susceptible to diseases that can be fatal (fireblight) or disfiguring (scab). So many of the cultivars are subsceptible, too, that it's a relief to be able to plant any at all—such as Teton—that are normally bullet-proof.

 

its hardiness: with pyracantha, if disease isn't the grim reaper, it's a severe winter. Many cultivars, and most of the seven species of pyracantha they're derived from, are not solidly hardy in Zone 6. Teton may not be the hardiest cultivar, but it is hardy in Zone 6.

 

its tolerance of sites that are hot and dry in the summer: unless you're growing pyracantha in an overtly desert environment—Tucson, say—you needn't worry about watering established shrubs during a long, hot summer.

 

its tolerance of different degrees of exposure to sun: although pyracantha thrives in absolutely full and unrelenting sun, it persists reliably in part or even deep shade. While growth will be more sparse, and flowering and fruiting will be reduced, the shrub can still be surprisingly effective: with fruits this bright and long-lasting, it doesn't take many to create a show.

 

its resistance to browsers: at least there's this benefit to the thorns: pyracantha's foliage and fruits are both usually avoided by four-footed foragers.

 

its appeal to birds, who eventually eat the pomes and find protective year-round roosting perches in the dense, thorny growth: the foliage hides them, the inner twigs provide perches, and the thorns deter larger predators.

 

its thorns, which enable pyracantha to be planted to form dense barriers that cannot be penetrated by humans or, probably, even livestock.

 

its tolerance of pruning and training: whether from rage-of-the-moment revenge upon a shrub that has sprawled too far and pricked once too often, or via measured and zen-like motions resulting in immaculate espaliers and topiary, pyracantha accepts pruning at almost any time and to any degree. See the second "How to handle it" box, below, if you'd like your pruning also to encourage a lovely fall display of pomes.

 

its ease of establishment: pyracantha is planted only as container-grown stock—the roots never grasp the soil with enough coherence to allow viable rootballs to be formed during transplanting—that is easy to handle provided you watch out for the branches' thorns. The shrub's tolerance of dry soil in summer means that it doesn't take much watering that first season to get the it established. 

Flowering season

In New England, the white flowers appear in May or early June; they can emerge in April in the deep South. The pale orange fruits are showy from October into January or even February, until temperatures become too cold for too long, during which time they become withered and wrinkly and, eventually, fall off. In Zones 7 and warmer, pyracantha pomes remain showy for much of the winter, and wither and fall not from premature cold damage but according to their natural lifespan. Even so, the height of the show of pyracantha pomes will be from fall into mid-winter, not fall to spring.

Color combinations

The white flowers and dark green foliage of Teton go with anything, so from spring to late summer, the shrub is a neutral presence in the garden.

 

This all changes when the light orange fruits become showy in early fall. Theoretically, their color and prominence would suggest a strictly orange-friendly context, with neighboring plants highlighting orange, white, and burgundy. (See "Partner plants," below, for some plants that also supply a peak season of orange each fall.) But fall is when other plants display multi-colored foliage; to my eye, at least, it's a time when almost any colors and combinations are welcome.

Partner plants

Pyracantha's fall display of pomes can be dense (there could be thousands of them per shrub, in clusters whose individual fruits jostle together as intimately as grapes in a cluster), brightly colorful (they're orange, remember), and large (a mature bush could potentially become as large an SUV standing vertically.) One option, then, is to treat the fall show as a blockbuster solo that, coloristically at least, needs nothing more than a neutral supportive setting.

 

Pyracantha that is lovingly—OK, obsessively—trained as the surrounds to the ground-floor windows and doorways of a townhouse would be a coup de théâtre needing any other plantings nearby to be only in shades of green. Textural contrasts—in my own garden, Teton is backed by the southern magnolia, with a white-variegated osmanthus, heavenly bamboo, and bear's breeches nearby—would also be welcome.

 

It's the rare garden and gardener with such abstemious discipline. (Indeed, choosing the location for Teton in my garden was purely a matter of sticking it in where it would receive shelter; there was no forethought to textural excitement with its neighbors.) Yes, countless little orange pomes can be almost garish, but why not fight fire with fire? How about neighboring plants that in fall also trumpet their allegiance to orange?

 

Pomes of Teton are orange-yellow, and are a good match to the comparatively large orange-yellow fruits of hardy orange. Fall foliage of persian ironwood is colorful for many weeks, and orange is in its palette. The feathery evergreen foliage of Rheingold arborvitae turns copper in cold weather. Foliage of cardinal willow is quickly shed in cool weather, revealing young twigs that are orange. The startlingly large, plentiful, deep orange fruits of persimmon remain on the branches for weeks after leaf-fall. In short, pyracantha could be just one voice among many in a choir shouting "Orange is Beautiful" all fall.

 

Because of the shrub's thorns, it will always be challenging to access deep into the growth or right around the base of the limbs to extract weeds. Consider pairing pyracantha with a weed-suppressing groundcover that, in itself, also does not require you to maintain it by accessing around the base of the shrub. Pachysandra terminalis or P. procumbens are probably the best, in that they doesn't need annual cutting back. Liriope spicata is another option provided you don't attempt to provide the late-winter trim it's often given in Zone 6 and colder. Hosta can be supremely weed-suppressing, but its thin leaves would likely become jagged and poke-holed by the lower thorns of pyracantha.

Where to use it in your garden

If hardiness is not a concern, pyracantha is strikingly versatile, succeeding as a free-standing specimen, informal barrier, tightly-pruned hedge, informal or intricately-patterned espalier, and topiary. Its display of fruits from fall into winter is so durable and colorful that it's tempting to site where such a show would be prominent.

 

But at the cold end of Zone 7 and colder, the foliage that is evergreen in warmer sites suffers increasing browning—winter "burn" as it were—and doesn't release until late winter or even spring. This makes a prominently-sited shrub unsightly by (usually) February and March, when the display of pomes has passed as well. The exception would be for shrubs that have been kept pruned both tightly and stylishly, where the retained brown foliage would help maintain the growth's visual density and, so, emphasize the geometry you've worked hard to create. The effect is similar to that of pruned beeches, oaks, and hornbeams, which retain their brown foliage to beautiful effect until spring.

 

All in all, in Zone 7a and warmer, pyracantha can be sited prominently without worry that it will be an eyesore in the depths of winter. In Zone 7b and colder, pyracantha needs to be sited first and foremost to ensure maximum hardiness, whether or not the most sheltering location also brings unwanted prominence by February, when the shrub has become an eyesore. If different sites that each ensure sufficient hardiness are available, choose one that is in your daily view only if the location also lends itself to displaying the pyracantha trained as a formal hedge, espalier, or topiary, for which the clinging brown foliage would be an asset or at least not a detriment. In my own garden, the decision had to be made entirely on the basis of maximizing hardiness; the location that offers the most protection in winter is also completely out of daily view from the house.

 

Pyracantha can't be transplanted, so consider possible locations carefully before choosing your planting site. Yes, you could salvage pyracantha that's thriving, but in a spot that you now realize isn't big enough, by reworking the shrub into a one of the clipped and inherently more compact than free-range forms detailed in the second "How to handle it" box, below. But it's bad to have had your hand forced to begin forming another (say) espalier out of desperation. Espalier out of joy, or not at all. See the first "How to handle it" box, below, for other options on renovating established pyracantha that's become too large for its site, or whose overall shape or branching architecture has become unattractively eccentric.

 

Because no pyracantha looks its best for long without some pruning, allow sufficient room for access for the pruner as well as for clearance of the resultant clippings. (Ideally, all pyracanthas are separated from nearby ornamental horticulture by a pathway.) The need for access is particularly acute with pyracantha in that its normal seasonal prunings—the twice-a-year clipping of soft growth—happen in July and again in September. These months bookend the height of the growing season, when companion plants are likely to be at their most billowing and fragile.

Culture

Full sun to part shade in almost any soil—compacted or loose, moisture-retentive or lean and dry, rich or poor in nutrients—as long as drainage in the winter is average to good. Pyracantha is unusually tolerant of modest and even unpromising conditions, which is one reason it is so often planted in urban sites.

How to handle it: The Basics

Plant in spring, ensuring enough water for establishment. To grow free-standing Teton en masse as a natural-growth colony or barrier, plant shrubs three or four feet apart. If you choose to pair pyracantha with a low, weed-suppressing groundcover (see "Partner plants," above), plant it now; it is always less successful to try to establish underplantings after the "overplanting" is nicely established.

 

If your goal is for a free-standing shrub of Teton with balanced growth side to side and top to bottom, cut back all of the main branches by half, right before or after planting. (If you do this pruning before planting, it might make the shrub that much easier to handle.) Pyracantha forms side branches readily, and responds quickly to pruning. This substantial initial pruning will not change the tendency of Teton to adopt a broad-upright habit; instead, it will help that habit be achieved more densely and uniformly. (Plant the Apache or Forest Hills cultivars if your goal is growth that is naturally wider than tall.)

 

No cultivars of pyracantha are improved by prolonged lack of attention: growth can become irregular, gappy, and even dangerously out of balance in the face of heavy winter snow. Although your goal for Teton might be attractive and full growth that looks free-range, be assured that it will not actually be so. Rather, every other year reach into the heart of your "free range" shrub as far as you can without incurring blood loss, and cut off one or more of the largest, thickest, tallest limbs. If your need is for cut material for fall-into-January arrangements, harvest as needed then; if not, cut anytime after the outdoor display of pomes is over.

 

Even if you are as attentive as this, the dense and near-evergreen leafiness of pyracantha can make some branches susceptible to snow or ice damage. Cut them off below the point of fracture at any time.

 

Provided it receives a reasonable amount of sun, free-range pyracantha can produce gratifyingly heavy crops of pomes on its own. In this regard, it is the opposite of pyracantha that has been trained into any of a number of possible shapes such as a clipped hedge, a column, an espalier, or a topiary. These are shapely as well as fruitful only with the encouragement of a specific kind of pruning at specific times of the year. For guidance, see the second "How to handle it" box below.

 

It's likely that, some time or other, you'll be faced with a pyracantha that has become awkwardly or even dangerously too large, or that in any location has become gangly and out of balance after years of attention that was insufficient or misinformed or both. I'm recalling massive pyracanthas in city gardens that, despite having just two or three trunk-like limbs, still loomed over pathways menacingly, or were kept in check only by dint of ugly ad hoc lengths of wire or garden hose straining to hold them back against walls or fences.

 

In planning a successful intervention, remember these two facts: pyracantha cultivars (and it would be almost unheard of for you to encounter any of the shrub's straight species) are propagated by cuttings, not by grafting. So all resultant shoots—even those arising directly from the base—will still be of the desired cultivar; there is no root-stock to send up unwanted volunteer shoots. Also, pyracantha responds well to even a complete massacre—sawing all of those limbs down to stumps—by producing new shoots from thick, old trunks. (This is a talent it shares with holly, yew, lilac, and China fir.) If you're working in late winter or early spring and the pyracantha in question is simply unmanageable in all parts, don't hesitate to saw all the limbs down to stumps in one go. The shrub will resprout, and the new growth will have time to harden sufficiently by the onset of winter.

 

But perhaps just one or two of the limbs are the offenders, and the rest need only to be lightly pruned to get them started on a more stylish look. (See the second "How to handle it" box, below for training choices.) Remove the offenders at any time, allowing the "remainers" to carry on—but delay their pruning until late winter or early spring. That summer and fall, begin the program of tip-pruning for spur formation detailed in the second "How to handle it" box, below.

 

Pyracantha has been so widely planted, though, that you may well encounter shrubs that are simply in the wrong place no matter how skillfully they might be handled. Pyracantha can't be transplanted, so there are just two options to remove the monster. The first is to saw all limbs down to stumps as low as you can, then spray the sprouts with Round Up. The dead stumps will remain, but perhaps adjacent plantings can hide them. Or, second, you could dig out the shrub entirely. Pyracantha doesn't sprout from the roots, so you can hack away the stumps and base to below grade, then leave the deeper roots in place to slowly rot and fortify the soil.

How to handle it: Another option—or two?

Its small foliage and capacity for responding to pruning with ready and profuse new stems—combined with your thrill of victory in training a shrub that would just as soon spear you as cooperate—make pyracantha a seductive subject for all kinds of training that involves regular pruning. 

 

The question is whether the pruning that's needed to further formation of the desired form of growth—clipped hedge, espalier, column, or topiary—can also encourage formation of the unusually showy clusters of pomes. Or are these goals at crossed purposes?

 

Pyracantha forms flower clusters on short side branches known as spurs. Happily, most of the training needed to direct and control overall growth involves pruning that can be timed to encourage spur formation.

 

There's a similarity to the handling of wisteria, which also forms flowers on spurs. Those vines benefit from removal of the soft new growth, known as whips, twice in a growing season. First, just before mid-summer—July, say—when the new whips will already be lengthy and, literally, whip-like. And then again in late summer—September—by which time additional whips will probably have formed.

 

While pyracantha's new growth doesn't become lengthy enough to be whip-like, its removal twice a season is just as encouraging to the formation of spurs as it is for wisteria. Do the first clip whenever you get around to it in July; tip soft stems so far back that you leave just four to six leaves. In September, check if there has been additional new growth, and tip it back that far, too.

 

Tipping the soft growth doesn't just encourage formation of spurs on the stubs you leave in place. Each stem that you've shortened to a stub has also been presented (if temporarily) from growing ever-longer and, in time, maturing to a woody branch that may or may not be helpful to the shrub's intended overall configuration. But forming pyracantha into a shape of any reasonable size and specific form—an espalier, say, or topiary—requires that some woody growth is allowed to form, and that it is directed where and as far as needed. So there's always some tension between forming spurs but also precluding formation of unwanted woody growth, and forming woody growth that furthers formation of the desired shape.

 

Here's how to serve both masters so that, year by year, your pyracantha assumes its desired shape while also displaying crops of pomes—so that, in other words, the shrub's vegetative and fruiting growth are both performing as desired.

 

Formal hedge: Space the shrubs two feet apart, using small stock to make such relatively close spacing easier to manage. Cut the main stem or stems of each plant back by a third or even a half to encourage plenty of shoots from the base, and allow them to grow freely the rest of this first year. In subsequent years, tip back the new growth of stems that are lengthening vertically by half each July, with the goal of encouraging their vegetative side shoots and, also, keeping the top line of the hedge even. If shoots are growing radically out of bounds in any direction, cut them back at any time. Eventually, growth should stabilize such that you can switch to long-term maintenance pruning: pinch new growth back on all sides of the developing hedge in July and September so as, first, to encourage spur formation and, only secondarily, to control size.

 

The hedge will still increase in size, ultimately to the dimensions you want, but—thanks so this tipping-back—only gradually. Even so, after many years, the hedge will begin to exceed desired dimensions; in early Spring, cut all the woody growth of any out-of-bound sides back by six inches or more, so that it is now several inches less than the desired limit. Tip back emerging new growth that season and subsequently as usual.

 

Espaliers and Topiary: With a hedge, as long as overall growth is full, withstands wind and weather, and is in bounds, the orientation of a given branch isn't important. In an espalier, branches are trained so that growth closely veneers a given vertical surface. For espaliers that are, simply, fanned growth across that surface, branch orientation is important in two dimensions. Espaliers that showcase individual arms of growth are still only two-dimensional, but with a fastidious and explicit training of the individual branch that forms each arm. A topiary is similar to hedges as well as fanned and "armed" espaliers, in that orientation of branches internal to the larger shapes isn't relevant, whereas any branch that enables a smaller volume of growth to develop in a specific direction will need to be oriented and sustained in such a configuration. This is all the more important if the branch itself is exposed, in which case the alignment of every inch is in view.

 

If growing a hedge is like playing checkers, then either form of espalier is more like chess. Topiary explores the possibilities of both—and in three dimensions, not just two. Three-dimensional chess, perhaps?

 

Across all three forms—hedges, espaliers, and topiary—the basics of training remain. To limit overall growth while fostering spur formation, tip soft growth in mid and late- summer. At any time, cut off any woody stem that is out of place.

 

The additional task in training topiary (as well as espaliers whose individual arms are distinct) is formation of stems that will become woody and that extend in a specific direction. Pyracantha stems tend to lengthen in a straight line, which is convenient in that this is usually the desired configuration of any exposed branch. Pyracantha branches readily, even from very old limbs, so encouraging formation of a new stem at a given location and orientation is usually just a matter of tip pruning soft growth above its desired point of emergence.

 

When such a young stem is identified, tie a bamboo peastake into place on which you then gently tie the stem. If the desired direction is vertical or at an angle from vertical less than, say, forty-five degrees, both the stem and the peastake can be in the ultimate location, vertical or at the angle, from the start.

 

If the desired direction is more than forty-five degrees from vertical (including all the way down to ninety degrees, i.e., horizontal), it's usually best to train the stem at forty-five degrees until it's about eighteen inches long. Even at this length, the stem should still be narrow enough to be flexible. Remove the peastake and tie it at the final angle; gently lower the stem down to it and tie the bottom foot of the stem in place. Tie a second peastake at a forty-five degree angle, such that the top six inches of the stem can be tied to it. As that tip lengthens to eighteen inches, then retie as above.

 

When the branch is the desired length, begin handling its still-growing tip the same way you would its side-branches: cut soft growth back twice a season to encourage spur formation. If a side branch needs to develop into another woody scaffold branch, train it with peastakes as above. If a section of woody stem needs to be kept free of leafy growth entirely, pinch new sprigs off whenever they appear.

 

Once a season, review all of the shrub's limbs to be sure that none of the ties is too snug or too loose, or that any ties or stakes have failed. As branches become older and thicker, they'll become rigid enough to need support only every few feet.

 

In all of this training, keep in mind that pruning to encourage dense growth as well as profuse pomes is done branch by branch, soft tip by soft tip. While you could prune a closely-trained pyracantha with power clippers, this is likely to foster only dense vegetative growth. A fruitful trained pyracantha, then, is all the more impressive because of the patient hand labor its performance entails.

Quirks and special cases

Enhancing hardiness: what with the free-range shrub's thorniness and sometimes wide-ranging branches, it's feasible to provide winter protection only for pyracantha that has already been trained into a smooth and relatively compact form—an espalier say, or a simple column. You'd be installing the protection sometime in early winter, after the display of pomes has passed. Protect a pyracantha column by wrapping it with a sheet of wind-baffle fabric. For an espalier, install grommets along all edges of the sheet, then hang it on hooks you've installed above the top of the espalier. Tie the other sides to the espalier frame to anchor it securely.

Downsides

While pyracantha's bountiful display of pomes is effective for many weeks, it is counter-balanced by the shrub's wide range of limitations and liabilities. 1. It's inevitable that you'll be pricked by the thorns in the course of necessary regular pruning. 2. In Zone 6 and colder, shelter and excellent drainage in the winter are both essential for viability, and can limit the shrub's placement. (I've proven just how crucial they both are by having pyracantha fail when planted in several less-than-ideal spots.) 3. Even if the shrubs are viable in Zone 6, the winter-burned foliage is often unsightly. 4. If someone else has planted the pyracantha, it's most likely that the shrub didn't receive pruning that was regular, unflinching, and well-informed. Rather, you'll be confronted with a monster that is bulbous, out of balance, and even dangerous. 5. Because the shrub has also usually been sited without sufficient regard for the space it will ultimately require, you'll need either to rework or remove an old one; you can't transplant it. 6. The thorns make it challenging to weed beneath a pyracantha. See "Partner plants," above, for suggestions for weed-proof groundcovers.

Variants

The seven Pyracantha species are variously native from Spain through southern Europe through Asia to China and Taiwan, but the pure species are almost never planted due to disease susceptibility (chiefly fireblight and scab) and insufficient hardiness in climate zones colder than those of their native regions. Just two of the species—P. coccinea and P. koidzumii—are predominant in all the cultivars commonly grown in western horticulture.

 

P. coccinea is the primary parent of cultivars used north of Virginia in eastern North America, because it's the hardiest species and normally thrives into Zone 7, sometimes into Zone 6 and, in rare cultivars, into Zone 5. P. koidzumii isn't hardy colder than Zone 8, but is heat tolerant to Zone 10, so is often among the parents of cultivars planted from North Carolina south.

 

In choosing cultivars, consider hardiness first, then resistance to both fireblight and scab, and only then differences in overall height and habit as well as pome color and leaf variegation.  The following cultivars are usually rated as resistant to both diseases and are also hardy in Zone 5: Apache and Rutgers. The following cultivars are usually rated as resistant to both diseases and are also hardy to Zone 6: Mohave, Navaho, and Teton.

 

Almost any cultivar with P. coccinea as a parent is likely to be hardy in Zone 7. Provided you know and accept the risks of disease for a given one, you could explore those that are compact or low (such as Apache, Forest Hills, Gnome, Lowboy, Pauciflora, Red Elf, and Rutgers), distinctly vertical (such as Red Column), have yellow pomes (such as Aurea, Gold Rush, Golden Charmer, Shawnee, and Soleil d'Or), or more deeply red ones (such as Baker's Red, Government Red, Cherri Berri, Graberi, and Ruby Mound), or variegated foliage (Harlequin), or are thornless (Thornless).

 

Many other cultivars are available, but their disease resistances as well as hardinesses are both challenging to confirm. Plant them only in a spirit of experimentation.

Availability

Online and sometimes at retailers.

Propagation

By cutting. Teton will not come true from seed, because it is a complex hybrid involving three species of Pyracantha. See 'Native habitat,' below.  

Native habitat

Pyracantha x 'Teton' is a hybrid of Orange Glow (itself a hybrid of Pyracantha crenatoserrata and P. coccinea) and P. crenulata var. rogersiana 'Flava'. P. crenatoserrata is native to central China, P. crenulata is native to the Himalaya, and P. coccinea is native from northern Spain to Iran.

 
 
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