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I think that I shall never see,
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.
Ogden Nash (1902 - 1971)

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Informal hedge shown here. Fall colour. Cotoneaster colours up early. Often a few twigs will turn red in August, putting a splash of red in an otherwise green bush. Red and orange leaves are held fairly late into the fall.

Leaf -- Cotoneaster

Species
Cultivar
Container
Format
Available
(# plants)
Height
(feet)
Price
($/Plant)
Cotoneaster, Peking Hedge #1 Std pot (3 qt) 5 - in. $12.50
Cotoneaster, Peking Hedge #2 Std pot (6 qt) 94 12-18 in. $18.00
Cotoneaster, Peking Hedge Bare Root Seedling -1000.00 $3.50
Cotoneaster, Peking Hedge Bare Root Seedling 1200 12-18 in. $3.25

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Formal hedge, needing a pass with the trimmers. One thing I don't like about formal hedges is the time it takes to keep them looking good.

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Once it starts to generally colour it does so from bottom to top, with lower leaves tending to go a darker red.

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This is a mixed hedge, with cotoneaster (dark green) alternating with villosa lilac (lighter green with flowers)

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Berries. While not poisonous, they are not tasty, unless you are a bird. Berries remain on the bush until found by birds.

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Peking Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster lucidus

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Small green semi-glossy to glossy leaves.

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This is a bundle as they come to me. 12-18" There is a lot of variation in the size of the plants I get, depending on the year. These have an average caliper (diameter just above the root) of about 3/16" On a bad year, they are only 1/8. Most years they run between. If there is a lot of variation, I will try to give you a matched set, and will keep the runts for our own use.

3/4 of our sales are in this form.

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The rest of our sales are as #2 pots. Here, you've given me a chance to kill off the small, and the weak. You are 1-2 years ahead. But you pay more money.

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You can use it on it's own in landscaping. In summer it's a green mound. In winter, it's fine twigs still provide a bit of contrast in our world of white.

Cotoneaster is a largely carefree shrub that grows up to about 6-8 feet tall. Dry soil, moist soil, it doesn't care. It's denser in full sun, but will grow in a very loose open way even in dense shade.

Small dark green glossy leaves during the summer followed by deep orange and red fall colour. Berries remain on the bush until the birds find them. It has small pink flowers in spring, but you have to look closely to notice them. One of my fans reminded me, "Cotoneaster flowers, though small, are beloved by bees. A cotoneaster hedge would be a great choice for an orchard where pollinators are essential."

First of all, pronunciation. Try "ka TONE ee Aster". Five syllables, emphasis on 2nd and 4th syllables. Not "cotton easter" Saying it's name is about the most trouble you have with this plant.

There are two main ways to use this: Formal hedge, or informal hedge. As a formal hedge most people clip it to between 3 and 4 feet tall. You use a hedge clipper -- like a miniature hay mower. (Over 3 feet makes for an awkward reach.

Lot of people try to clip it with straight sides. This can work but requires a more delicate touch. Better is to make the sides slope in to the top. This gives more light to the lower leaves.

For formal hedges, you need lots of leaves to start from. Plant the shrubs 12 to 18 inches apart.

A more relaxed approach is to plant them further apart -- up to 4 feet -- for an informal hedge. They get taller, six or seven feet, but are a lot looser.

You can also go for the "dotted line" effect, and put them about 8 feet apart. this allows you to separate areas in your yard, but not interfere with the traffic flow.

Planting

Spacing: For formal hedges plant 1.5 to 2 feet apart. For a more informal look, plant 2-3 times as far apart. The latter will take longer to fill in.

Weed control: Branches extend to the ground, and it's a hands and knees job to weed them. Take the time to lay down weed barrier after planting. Best way to do this is to lay a strip on either side, cut a slit in the edge, and over lap around the trunk of the plant. Put about 2" of wood chips down on top of the mulch.

Pruning: While they are getting established, clip all the new shoots back about half way. This encourages branching. In spring just after the leaves start to show prune out any dead wood. This is the easiest time to see it.

Ordering note

Nominally 25 per bundle, it can vary from 23 to 28. These are commercial wholesale plants. There will be some with broken stems, roots. Most will recover.

Order 7-10% more than you need, and plant the extras in #2 (6 liter) pots. This gives you plants of about the same size to replace the ones that get stepped on or experience a Close Encounter of the Weedeater Kind.

Pests

Cotoneaster, along with apples, raspberries, roses, saskatoon and other is subject to fireblight, a bacterial infection. Not a huge pest in Alberta, as our summers generally are too dry. It spreads during warm humid times. The bacteria gets into the leaves through injuries, so be attentive after a hard hailstorm. But it is also spread by sap sucking insects.

Symptoms:

Leaves apear red, fire scorched. Leaves die, but remain attached.

New growth tips droop and wilt.

Clear amber liquid may ooze from diseasted twigs. This liquied is very infectious to other plants.

Fighting Fireblight

Prune and destroy Do NOT COMPOST or use for mulch. Your pruners can spread the infection. Sterilize pruners between cuts using either a 25% bleach solution (1 pt bleach to 3 parts water) Wear old clothes, as the bleach will be hard on them. Some people find bleach to be a skin irritant.

Bleach is corrosive to metal. Rinse pruners after use. You may want to buy cheap pruners for this use.


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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.