Shape pyracantha to keep it within bounds and create an elegant, architectural outline against your walls or fences that looks as good in winter as it does in summer.
Pyracantha, also known as firethorn, is an incredibly useful boundary wall shrub that looks fantastic all year round. In spring it’s covered in frothy white blossom, followed by spectacularly colourful berries in red, orange or yellow which the birds adore – so it’s a really wildlife-friendly plant. It’s evergreen, so you can clothe a bare wall all year round; and it’s quite thorny so makes a great security feature when planted on boundaries.
Left to its own devices, pyracantha can grow into a large, rather shapeless shrub – so it’s best trained flat against a wall when it becomes a handsome, architectural feature. Put up your supports before you start – choose from trellis panels or wire-and-strainer systems using vine eyes sunk at 45cm intervals up the wall with sturdy plant wire strung taut in between.
Tie the main leader (upright stem) in vertically, then select a branch each side to train onto the wires. Prune out any other branches completely. As the shrub grows, continue to develop the framework: cut out any shoots you don’t need, and shorten sideshoots coming off the main branches to about 5-6 leaves. This encourages lots of flowers to form, followed by fat clusters of gorgeous, colourful berries hung like jewels right along the length of the branches. In time, you’ll develop a ladder-like pattern right up the wall: once the plant reaches the top, nip out the leader and shorten side branches to keep them within bounds, and enjoy that spectacular long-lasting display to the full.