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Fiery delight; Clive Edwards tells us how to grow pyracantha.

HE name pyracantha is appropriate.

TIt is derived from two Greek words, pyr meaning fire and akanthos meaning thorn.

Pyracantha, or firethorn as it is known, is a pretty shrub with attractive flowers and magnificent red, yellow or orange berries in autumn and winter.

It is often trained against a wall or fence. It also makes an excellent evergreen hedge and the growing thorns can make them quite impenetrable, thus deterring unwanted visitors. When used as a hedge, pyracantha looks amazing during the winter months when the plant is covered in bright berries.

Make sure that the ground is well prepared before planting - dig over and add well-rotted compost, if necessary. For the first three to four years, it is advisable to keep adding compost to the topsoil, ensuring that the plant is well nourished while it gets established.

If pyracantha is to be used as a hedging plant, a temporary support should be used, a wire fence would be ideal as this protects from wind damage, ensuring that the plants grow sturdy and upright.

Regardless of the type of pyracantha specimen, wall planted, ground cover or hedge, the plants should be pruned for control, neatness and better flowering and fruiting.

One of the best methods is to tip pinch throughout the growing season. Cutting branches with berries is another type of pruning so keep in mind that all berried branches should be cut back to a new unflowered lateral.

If a branch is just headed back, the new growth will bunch just below the cut destroying the graceful lines of the shrub. Keep in mind that the largest and loveliest crop of berries are borne on plants that have had all the branches that previously bore berries removed as soon as the berries have dropped or the birds have eaten them.

Also keep in mind that the young, unflowered branches are the ones that will bear the flowers this spring and berries in the autumn. Choose a place in full sun if possible, they love hot walls if you are planning an espalier.

Pyracanthus are subject to fire blight, a disease that causes the branches to turn black as if they have been burned. The only treatment is to cut the diseased branches out making sure to make cuts well below the diseased areas as the shears can carry the blight to healthy branches.

Best varieties: | Pyracantha Orange Glow - orange red fruits | Pyracantha Rogersiana - orange red fruits, good for shaded walls | Pyracantha Flava - yellow fruits, weeping habit Did you know? The rose is native to the United States. The oldest fossilised imprint of the rose was left on a slate deposit found in Florissant, Colorado. It is estimated to be 35 million years old.

Ask Clive Q I have had a Christmas cactus for several years, but is has not flowered since the first winter A Lack of flower buds is almost always because it didn't have the right amount of light in autumn and early winter. If it is kept in a lighted place after night fall, it won't develop buds, which is why so many Christmas cacti kept in living rooms don't flower.

They need what is known as a "short day" in autumn and early winter and should at that time of year be kept away from artificial light in the evenings. Leave them in a dark room instead. Occasionally the reason for lack of flower is insufficient warmth in autumn. The temperature should be above 16degC from mid autumn.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 20, 2012
Words:584
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