Content Detail

Creeping cotoneaster is a dense, low-growing, spreading shrub used as a ground cover in rock gardens or cascading over stone walls. Valued for its tiny white flowers, excellent glossy foliage, and attractive red berries.

  • Family (English) Rose
  • Family (botanic) Rosaceae
  • Tree or plant type Ground cover, Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches), Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest mid spring, late summer
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Arching, Creeping, Mounded
  • Growth rate Slow

Size and method of spreading:

A low-growing, spreading shrub or groundcover reaching 1 to 2 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide. It is a trailing-rooting ground cover that has trailing stems that spread out from a central root system. These stems spread out horizontally over the ground and can root where they come in contact with the soil. New shoots will be formed at the point where rooting occurs.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is native to western China.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

Butterflies and birds are attracted to it.

Bark color and texture:

It has tan to grayish-brown bark.

Leaf description:

Alternate, 1/4 to 1/2 oval, glossy dark green leaves turn a reddish color in the fall.

Flower description:

Solitary, small five-petaled, white flowers have a pink tinge.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Often fruiting heavily, the shrub has a 1/4 inch pome that is a showy bright red.

Plant care:

Creeping cotoneaster does best planted in full sun although it is tolerant of part shade. It requires well-drained, moist soil, and is pH adaptable. Water well to establish, as roots are coarse and penetrate deeply into the soil. Apply mulch around the base of the plant to moderate soil temperatures. It will benefit with a layer of loose leaf mulch after ground freezes for winter protection which should be removed in the spring. Give enough space to grow to its full width.

List of pests, diseases and tolerances:

Spider mites, scale insects, leaf spots and fire blight are potential problems. Tolerant of dry soil once established.

Little Gem creeping cotoneaster (Cotoneaster adpressus ‘Little Gem’):

A low-growing, mat-forming shrub reaching 8 to 12 inches tall and 4 to 6 feet wide. Branches form a herringbone pattern. The shiny miniature green leaves turn red in fall. Syn. with Tom Thumb creeping cotoneaster.

Tom Thumb creeping cotoneaster (Cotoneaster adpressus ‘Tom Thumb’):

See above.


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