Another Propagation Success: Pyracanthus augustifolia

Here are some cuttings of Pyracanthus augustifolia also known as Firethorn. This is a very good plant to use in the landscape for privacy hedges and for attracting wildlife. Birds and insects both love this plant. Insects for its white flowers in late spring and the birds for the bright orange berries in fall and winter. As you can probably surmise from the name it has thorns and its bright orange berries evoke images of fire (Firethorn).

Among my wife’s family it is simply called the
“Orange Berry Bush.” I wish I had known how to propagate plants at the time, but several years ago at their old house my wife’s parents had a pyracanthus that they loved. They moved and couldn’t take it with them because of the size. Later the people who bought their old house took it out completely. It would have been nice to bring a piece of the old bush and let it grow into their new landscape to preserve a bit of their past. They bought a new one and put it in but it would have been a neat idea to bring the old one with them.

If you ever go to the main campus at the University of Tennessee, you can find pyracanthus in several places around the campus.

In the pictures you can see three cuttings and a close up of the root system. These pictures were taken in December and I haven’t checked the roots recently. Hopefully they have grown a bit!

My basic procedure for making these cuttings went like this:

1) Take the cutting. I made cuttings of about 5-6 inches long off the mother plant in the early fall. If you can’t stick the cutting immediately wrap it with a couple damp paper towels and put them in a plastic bag.

2) Fill your flat/pot/container with your rooting medium. I only used sand for these cuttings and they worked fine. I also cut the bottom 4-5 inches off of a gallon milk jug to use as a container. It a great re-use of materials that most people typically throw out.

3) Dip the cutting in a little water. This will help with step 4.

4) Dip the cutting in rooting hormone and tap off any excess. The water from step 3 helps it stick to the cutting.

5) Put the cutting in the sand. I just stick them straight in but it might be a good idea to use a stick to prepare a hole for the cutting then firm up around the hole.

6) Water. Keep the medium moist.

If you can have your rooting medium ready before step one. It took about 6 weeks or so for these cuttings to produce roots. They need a sheltered location while they are young. Protect them from too much sun or shade and definitely shield them from frosts. This spring I’ll pot them up in soil and watch them grow!

13 Replies to “Another Propagation Success: Pyracanthus augustifolia”

  1. Good description and I think you should be dubbed the Cutting King as you always seem to be successful! Any luck with oakleaf hydrangea cuttings?

    Are you going to make a privacy hedge with your cuttings? I love pyracanthas, thorns and all, but my house doesn’t have enough sun for them. There were millions in North Carolina and they were beautiful.

  2. I was thinking about using them for part of a privacy screen. There is an extremely open area to our yard I’d like to cover a little. It may be good to extent our hemlocks down with them.

    I haven’t tried Oakleaf hydragea. Ironically I was just reading about them! Stem tip cuttings in late spring to mid-summer seems to be the key. They are on my to-get list this spring! If we have the cash that is.

  3. Hey there. Great post on cuttings. One of my regular readers (Nina) wants to start a cutting of contorted filbert for me. I have never done this but advised her how I do mine and that she should check today’s post on here. I am sure she will but I thought I would ask you if the same procedure would work for contorted filbert as for the pyracantha do you think? Dirr says success from cuttings is low for both the contorted filbert and birch tree (which are in the same family).

    I have rooted oakleafs. Ironically, hydrangeas are fairly easy. Oakleafs also self seed. I got about 25 extra plants from my one species oakleaf. I planted them all out in the landscape. If I find more, I will pot up and save for you. I can bring it to PPS sometime when you are coming. They ranged in size from 1 inch to about six inches, so they were small. But hey, they grow and are free. Oakleafs are not too expensive. You can find them on sale for about $5 for a good sized pot. I was overjoyed they self seeded. Usually the area is mulched every two years. This was the year to mulch it and apparently the seedlings made it through the pine needles.

    I tried to root a snow queen but had absolutely no success. Very frustrating because I have two snow queens and wanted to be sure i had one more. No luck. I found one at a nursery in Evansville Indiana half off and snatched it up.

    Let me know if you have rooted contorted filberts or know of anyone who has. Thanks.

  4. I have never tried Contorted filbert (Corylus) but I have tried birches and failed. I only tried two and plan to try more this spring. I looked Filbert up and found that they recommend taking 3-4 inch softwood cuttings in late spring to early summer. Wound the base of the cutting up to 3/4 of an inch and use rooting hormone. Some cultivars work well with French layering.

    Stooling/mounding sounds promising. Wound the base of the young shoots to be rooted and apply rooting hormone. Then mound up the dirt around the base of the plant. Check back in 4 weeks or so and keep checking every two weeks. When you have enough roots sever the branch from the mother plant and pot it up.

    I think I would try both the cutting and the mounding. The mounding could be done now (late winter) through spring. Basically before new top growth starts.

    Reference: Plant Propagation by Alan Toogood. American Horticultural Society.

  5. Thanks! I told Nina cuttings would probably not work but explained stooling. I would think contorted filberts would have lots of suckers that can be taken anyhow.

    I don’t have that propagation book, but looked them up in Dirr. He says birches don’t root well from cuttings. Contorted filberts and birches are in the same family.

    I thought they would root well because I compare them to the willows-same growing conditions required. Come to find out they are totally different. Thanks for the help and we will work it out! Let us know if you get some birch rooted. You know they are very inexpensive as plants go. I bought one at Rural King for $20. It was five feet tall. That was one and one half years ago, now it is almost 10 feet tall and growing well. Even with a move. You know those gardeners-we can’t plant something in one place and just leave it there!

  6. I love your list of things to do… a great way to keep yourself accountable.

    My first time visiting your blog, but I’ll be back.

  7. Thanks Sherry!

    I’m glad you could stop by!

  8. Tina,

    You’re right about birches being inexpensive, but I like a challenge! The one’s I tried were taken from a ‘Jacquemontii’. I took them at the wrong time of year. I put in two river birches in our yard from Arbor Day.

    The Filbert should do well mounding since it suckers readily.

  9. Too bad, Dave that your inlaws could not take the “Orange Berry Tree” with them, or at least part of it. I can tell you from experience it is very nice. My mother had some of the good old fashion rhubarb that had come from her mother’s in Canada. My mother moved a few times when her and my father were married and once after I was born. It went with her every move and finally ended up at my house in southern Maine (my parents lived in eastern Maine. I had it for several years and sadly one spring it did not come back. The same story with a bleeding heart but that died after I dug some up for a friend. Guess I killed it.

  10. Dave-are you taking the day off? In the garden maybe?

  11. Jean,

    It’s too bad the rhubarb and the bleeding hearts didn’t make it. I really like the bleeding hearts. They are one of those natural woodland type plants that are like little gems in the underbrush. We saw several while hiking in the Smokies.


    My inspiration for the day has been lacking. Too tired from a rough night getting a two-year old to sleep. I’ve started a bunch of posts but haven’t had the will power to finish any of them! Perhaps I can get one of them done for tonight.

  12. When I was in college I spent my summers earning money by maintaining landscapes. The company that I worked for had one designer who loved to use pyracantha, which in turn left me maintaining them. After one week of working with them I swore that I would never specify a firethorn unless it was for the sole purpose of causing the most dangerous sceanario possible.
    Anyhow, congrats on the success, and thank you for stopping by and commenting on my blog.

  13. Thanks for stopping by Craig!

    Yeah I wouldn’t want to work too much with Pyracanthus either. Just plant it an let it grow. I know some people try to espalier with it but one pruning a year would be more than enough for me!

    I’ve been interested in propagation for a while so my goal is to try as many plants as I can to see what works best.

Comments are closed.