Plant Preview

Welcome to Plant Preview, a blog dedicated to helping gardeners learn about gardening techniques and preview new plant cultivars. Read about new plants here first and hear how your "comrades in compost" are making use of new plant introductions in their gardens and landscapes. Blog author Geri Laufer is a life-long dirt gardener, degreed horticulturist, author and former County Extension Agent. Plant Preview is copyrighted by Geri Laufer.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Consider Cotoneaster as a Groundcover

Groundcover plants, often overlooked in the plant pantheon, are hard workers in the landscape and solve many design challenges. Groundcovers help to define space and unify elements of the landscape; they’re used to soften hardscapes, add texture and provide transition between the lawn and taller plants. When sited correctly they can prevent soil erosion and slow weed growth.

Of course lawns are groundcovers, ubiquitously used to frame architecture. But consider that groundcovers can be woody or herbaceous, spreading, running, vining or clump-forming, evergreen or deciduous, and can range in height from an inch to four feet.

Northern Borders™ Cotoneaster is a low-maintenance groundcover choice that is tough, adaptable and requires little pruning, with no serious insect or disease problems. This Garden Debut® introduction is moderate-growing and can be massed for sunny areas in the landscape including banks and slopes where it can also provide some erosion control. A valuable woody groundcover, Northern Borders™ Variegated Cotoneaster hugs the ground, maturing at two to three feet and with a generous spread of five to eight feet! Northern Borders™ sprawls over rocks in rock gardens, cascades over stone walls and mounds at patio edges.

The leaves of Northern Borders™ Variegated Cotoneaster are edged with a shimmer of white.
As far as the beauty goes, Northern Borders™’s outstanding blue-green foliage rimmed in white produces an overall silver effect in the landscape. This beautiful, dense-growing cultivar is fine-textured and semi-evergreen, and the noteworthy leaves persist until late in autumn when they change to a lovely orange-red color. In winter the leaves fall, revealing the celebrated “fan” or “herringbone” branch pattern for which this species is known. An added bonus, this branching provides a good habitat for ground nesting birds.

In the vertical dimension, Northern Borders™ Cotoneaster is a good subject for espalier and offers four seasons of interest no matter what form. The silver-edged leaves are prominent in summer. In spring, rosy buds open to tiny white flowers along the cinnamon-colored twigs. Later, the plant is laden with shiny scarlet fruit (1/4 inch) liberally sprinkled throughout. These berries add color throughout winter, sparkling in the winter sun and providing food for songbirds and wildlife.

Learn more about Northern Borders™ Variegated Cotoneaster at Garden Debut®.

Statistics for Northern Borders™ Variegated Cotoneaster, Cotoneaster horizontalis ‘Variegatus’ Selection

Plant Category: Woody shrub
Mature Height: 2 - 3 feet
Mature Spread: 5 - 8 feet
Mature Form: Horizontal spreading groundcover
Branching: Cinnamon-brown branches with attractive fan or fishbone pattern becoming tiered over time
Growth Rate: Moderate, low maintenance, durable, no serious pests
Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type: Loam, Sand, Clay
Soil Moisture: Moist, well-drained; adaptable to drought when established
Roots: Wide-ranging
Flower Color: Tiny rosy buds open to white flowers (1/2 inch)
Bloom Season: May – June
Berries: Bright scarlet red, small (1/4 inch), persistent throughout Winter, excellent songbird food especially after frost sweetens the berries; nesting habitat
Foliage: Blue-green foliage (to 3/8 inch) is edged in white, persists through late fall
Fall Color: Lovely red-orange fall color, becoming deciduous in early winter
pH Level: 5.5 – 7.5
Zones: 5 – 8
Heredity: U.S., Greenleaf Nursery Selection, Park Hill, OK

When performance counts, use Garden Debut® introductions!

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