Cotoneaster brilliant belongs to shrubs of the genus Cotoneaster and grows about 3 m high. A lush crown (diameter one and a half times wider than height) is formed by straight shoots directed in all directions. The elliptical leaves grow 1.5-5 cm long. The summer dark green color of the foliage changes to dark brown with a reddish tinge in autumn.
Cotoneaster blooms mainly in May-June. Black shiny fruits (0.7-1 mm in size), have a spherical shape. Berries ripen in late September-early October. The first fruits appear in three to four years, and the bush itself is able to grow in one place without a transplant for up to 50 years.
There are two ways to propagate shrubs: seeds, cuttings. Moreover, cuttings can be harvested after the end of flowering and before the fruit ripens.
Several more types of shrubs are actively planted:
- horizontal. Cotoneaster height up to 50 cm. Rounded dark green leaves are small (up to 1.5 cm) and dense, have a leathery surface. It blooms at the end of May and perfectly decorates rocky flower beds. With dense planting, cushion thickets are formed. Cotoneaster tolerates frost well;
- holly (Beijing) grows to a height of up to 2 m. Glossy leaves look especially beautiful in a green hedge. A distinctive feature is high winter hardiness. Looks great in its natural form, without shaping pruning;
- Alaunian. Spreading shrub grows 1.5 m high, blooms in April-early May. The leaves are elliptical, 3.5-4 cm in size, green above and whitish below, slightly pubescent;
- hybrid groundcover shrub 0.7-0.8 m high. Shoots have an arched shape. Perfectly tolerates pruning, quite frost-resistant.
Drought-resistant, frost-resistant varieties are bred. Cotoneaster is an excellent element of landscaping. Planted singly or in groups. The shrub can be cut, giving it any shape. Therefore, it is actively used in landscape design, forming a “living” hedge.
Due to its unpretentiousness, cotoneaster grows well in different conditions. The plant decorates parks, squares and summer cottages in Central Asia and Eastern Siberia, China. Culture grows well in open, lit areas. But you can plant in partial shade.
Planting a shrub and caring for it is easy. Experienced gardeners jokingly call cotoneaster a plant for the lazy. In order for the plant to fully develop, initially, appropriate conditions are created for it.
The culture has no special soil preferences. But if there are conditions and opportunities, you can prepare a special mixture of soil. Sand, peat and sod land are mixed in a ratio of 2: 1: 2, respectively. It is also recommended to add lime to the soil, approximately at the rate of 300 g per square meter of area.
Growing from seed
This method is not so common and popular with gardeners. Because you need to spend more time on this and not all of the seed germinates (literally 50%).
- berries picked from the bushes are slightly dried, as this will make it easier to separate the pulp from the seeds;
- the grains are washed under running water to remove the remnants of the pulp;
- the seed is placed in a container of water to separate the empty grains. Good seeds will sink to the bottom, and empty, diseased ones will float to the surface.
Breeding a shrub from seeds is quite a long time. Therefore, this method is used very rarely. It is advisable to use it when breeding a new variety.
Breeding from cuttings
With the next pruning of the shrub, you can leave the strongest branches for breeding shrubs. Step by step process:
- growth stimulants are diluted in containers with water and twigs are placed in it;
- as soon as the first roots appear on the cuttings, the plant can be transplanted into open ground;
- the hole is prepared in advance. A hole is dug with a diameter of 35-40 cm and a depth of 40-45 cm. A drainage layer (pebbles, broken brick, sand) 15-20 cm thick is poured into the bottom. When planting a cotoneaster, one must take into account its ability to grow strongly. Therefore, the distance to the nearest beds or plants should be at least 0.5-1 m;
- it is recommended to prepare a nutritious soil mixture: two parts of garden soil are mixed with humus and sand (take one part at a time). The soil is loosened, covered with a drainage layer and moistened a little. The cuttings are placed in a hole and dug in with earth (the branches are fixed at an angle of 45˚);
- the ground around the seedling is rammed and watered with warm water.
Reproduction by layering
The horizontal variety of cotoneaster belongs to the ground cover and is easily bred by layering. Usually, shrub branches hang very low above the ground surface, and sometimes they simply spread along the ground. Shoots quickly germinate in places of contact with the ground.
If there are no naturally sprouted branches, you can tilt the young flexible shoot to the ground and pin it. The place of future rooting is sprinkled with soil and must be watered on dry days. In the spring, you can start seedlings. The dug branches are cut off from the bush and transplanted to the right place.
This method is very popular for several reasons. The shoots will take root naturally and grow strong and healthy. Because they receive enhanced nutrition – from the earth and from the mother bush. If the sprouted branches are not dug up, then the cotoneaster grows into a beautiful green carpet. To create a spectacular green space, initially choose an open plot of land, a good area.
A common way to propagate a brilliant cotoneaster is to divide the bush. To do this, the plants are dug up, divided into several parts and seated in prepared holes. Bushes take root pretty quickly. You can breed cotoneaster in this way both in spring and in autumn.
The shrub does not need excessive attention. But it is necessary to provide high-quality conditions for the growth of shrubs. For this, young seedlings are fed in a timely manner. It is recommended to apply fertilizers directly when planting twigs, before and after the flowering period. You can use both ready-made mineral mixtures (Kemira-universal, urea), and organic fertilizers (manure, chicken manure). Before flowering, it is important to feed the shrub with a potassium mixture (60 g of superphosphate and 15 g of potassium are added per square meter). At the end of the season, the soil near the bushes is not fertilized. This is due to the fact that the growth of the branches slows down, and they begin to become covered with bark.
When choosing an irrigation regime , one must take into account the ability of the shrub to tolerate drought well. It is enough just once a month to qualitatively water the cotoneaster. If very hot, dry weather has set in, it is recommended to irrigate the plants after 15 days. 6-8 buckets of water are poured under one bush. After watering, the earth must be loosened and mulched to maintain moisture.
In order to prepare the shrub for wintering, the branches are tilted to the ground and covered ( dry foliage, peat mulch are suitable ). In regions with severe frosts, it is recommended to mulch the trunk circle with peat (layer thickness is about 5 cm).
Shrub pruning rules
Cotoneaster grows quickly, so it needs periodic pruning of branches. There are several types of pruning:
- sanitary is carried out in order to eliminate damaged, dry or diseased branches. They do this throughout the season. But the first thorough cleaning of the planting from non-living branches is done in the spring, before the dissolution of the buds;
- rejuvenating pruning of old bushes that are losing their decorative effect is carried out in early spring. At the same time, old branches that do not give increments are completely or partially cut out. Moreover, the branches are shortened by 75-85% of the total length (sometimes almost to the base). Over the summer, new branches grow from dormant buds. The shortening of the shoots stimulates the growth of the remaining branches. It is only important to cut above well-developed kidneys. Deciduous types of cotoneaster are engaged in February, and evergreen in April;
- shaping pruning is carried out in order to give the “living” hedge beautiful, original shapes.
How to create a “living” fence
Planting shrubs is easy to give any shape (hemisphere, prism, cone). If you want to see more refined green figures, it is better to use the services of a specialist. Form pruning is desirable to do annually.
Landscape designers believe that to create a well-groomed hedge, it is enough to plant the bushes in one row, in increments of 45-50 cm. Or dig a special trench 50 cm deep / wide. Some gardeners prefer to plant seedlings in two rows, arranging the holes in geometric order, on distance of 30-40 cm from each other.
In order for the plant to fully take root and grow, in the first two years the bushes are not pruned. Only in the third year of the cotoneaster’s life do they begin to give the bushes a certain shape. To do this, initially pinch the tops of the shoots. This action stimulates increased growth of side shoots. As soon as the branches grow to the desired length, it will be possible to start creating a hedge shape.
In subsequent years, the shrub needs to be cut only to maintain the desired appearance. Moreover, in order to maintain beautiful outlines, 3-4 formative cotoneaster haircuts are carried out per season. It is believed that the optimal height of the hedge is 1.5 m. It is comfortable to care for a shrub of this height. If you want to have a higher green fence, then you will have to use special ladders or stepladders to trim the greenery.
To design a decorative hedge, gardeners recommend planting unpretentious and winter-hardy varieties of cotoneaster: ordinary (whole-edge), shiny, chokeberry. If you like the natural look of the shrub more, then you can plant a creeping (horizontal) variety.
Curly cutting of green spaces is becoming more and more popular with summer residents and gardeners. The ability to give the cotoneaster any shape, easy maintenance, resistance to frost and drought, increase the attractiveness of the shrub for lovers and connoisseurs of a well-groomed area. Even novice gardeners can grow and breed cotoneaster.