Pyracantha Propagation (Firethorn)

While out of town this past weekend at my in-laws home I took the opportunity to take more cuttings from their pyracantha (Pyracanthus augustifolia). It is a favorite of birds due to its bright orange berries and is has an appropriately named common name: Firethorn.

Firethorn berries

Firethorn's thorns are quite sharp and offer the plant good protection from would be herbaceous plant munchers, like deer and rabbits, not to mention plant propagators! It is a challenge to take cuttings from but if you're careful you can get by with minimal or if you're really lucky no damage. Pyracantha would make a great plant for security reasons around windows as would roses and hollies. It is also commonly trained into espalier. Last year I managed to root two cuttings of Firethorn but sadly they died over the winter as I made the mistake of leaving them unprotected outside. I thought they were hardened off enough but apparently I was wrong. Live and learn, or die and learn I guess! I'll keep these cuttings in the garage greenhouse until the spring freezes have finished.

Pyracanthus augustifolia thorn

Here's what I did. I cut several 12-16 inch branches off the main plant. Each of the branches had several variations in ripeness. The base was nearly hardwood while the tip was soft greenwood and the middle was...well...somewhere in between! Each branch was then divided into three to four sections about 5-6 inches long. The cuttings should root a little differently since they are all at different stages of ripeness. I stripped the cuttings of most of the leaves and thorns then dipped them in rooting hormone and stuck them in the sand. I used a cheap plastic container that was about 6 inches square to hold the cuttings. I ended up with 14 cuttings in the small container. There's proof that you can do a large amount of cuttings in a small space! I don't really need fourteen pyracantha cuttings but since I was pruning some of the outer branches out of a walkway it was either root them or toss them. I hope you're not surprised which choice I made. Besides it is unlikely that all the cuttings will root but wouldn't it be fun if they did!

For more plant propagation information check out this post.

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