Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Featured Plant of The Day: 'Mohave' Pyracantha

Pyracantha coccinea 'Mohave'
Firethorn,  Pyracantha

Type    Shrub, woody plant
Hardy range    6B to 10A
Height    6' to 10' / 1.80m to 3.00m
Spread    10' to 15' / 3.00m to 4.60m
Growth rate    Fast
Form    Upright or erect
Exposure    Partial shade or partial sun to full sun
Persistence    Evergreen

Bloom Color    White
Bloom Time    Spring

The flowers are showy.

This plant tolerates drought, occasional wetness and a little salt.
This plant will grow in very dry to occasionally wet soil.
Suitable soil is well-drained/loamy, sandy or clay.
The pH preference is an acidic to alkaline (less than 6.8 to more than 7.7) soil.

Leaf Color    Green
Fall Color    No change in fall color

Landscape Uses
-    Seashore planting
-    Arbor
-    Espalier
-    Massing
-    Erosion control

Attributes and Features
-    Attracts butterflies
-    Persistent fruit
-    Attractive fruit
-    Fruit is edible by birds

Culture Notes
Surviving best in full sun and well-drained soil, pyracantha is slightly salt-tolerant.  Flowers are borne on last year's wood, so prune after flowering in the spring to maximize flower display.  Left to grow naturally, Firethorn will develop into a small tree or large sprawling bush with dark green leaves and long arching branches, making it ideally suited to large-scale shrubbery borders.  While sometimes grown as an espalier against a wall, Firethorn's rampant growth makes this treatment labor-intensive.  With proper training, this plant can quickly shade a wall which will reduce energy bills.  Begin this training process early and pinch often to create a well-branched plant.  Several large stems often develop, and frequent pinching prevents them from dominating the plant.

This cultivar has a very heavy fruit set.  Plants serve as hosts for butterfly larvae.

Planting and establishing shrubs 
The most common cause of young plant failure is planting too deep.  Plant the root ball no deeper than it was in the nursery.  In most instances, the root flare zone (point where the top-most root in the root ball originates from the trunk) should be located just above the landscape soil surface. Sometimes plants come from the nursery with soil over the root flare. If there is soil over this area, scrape it off.  The planting hole should be at least twice the width of the root ball, preferably wider.  In all but exceptional circumstances where the soil is very poor, there is no need to incorporate anything into the backfill soil except the loosened soil that came out of the planting hole.  Never place ANY soil over the root ball. If a row or grouping of plants is to be installed, excavating or loosening the soil in the entire bed and incorporating organic matter enhances root growth and establishment rate.

Weed suppression during establishment is essential.  Apply a 3-inch thick layer of mulch around the plant to help control weed growth.  Keep it at least 10 inches from the trunk.  If you apply it over the root ball, apply only a one or two inch layer.   This allows rainwater and air to easily enter the root ball and keeps the trunk dry.  Placing mulch against the trunk or applying too thick a layer above the root ball can kill the plant by oxygen starvation, death of bark, stem and root diseases, prevention of hardening off for winter, vole and other rodent damage to the trunk, keeping soil too wet, or repelling water.  Regular irrigation through the first growing season after planting encourages rapid root growth, which is essential for quick plant establishment.

Pests, Diseases and Damaging Agents
Pests:  Aphids suck plant juices and coat the leaves with sticky honeydew.  Hawthorn lace bug discolors the foliage and leaves black flecks on the undersides of leaves.  Mites cause yellowish foliage, and heavy infestations form fine webbing.

Diseases: Resistant to fireblight and scab in many situations. Fire blight causes wilting and blackening of shoots.  Scab causes dark areas on the leaves that turn yellow, then brown, then drop off.  Rake up and destroy infected leaves.