Cotoneaster apiculatus - Cranberry Cotoneaster @DBG 28jul04 LAH 411-2


As summer’s flowers fade, plants that produce berries take center stage. Branches covered with bright red berries make cotoneasters especially attractive now, but they offer year-round interest. In spring, tiny but abundant white to pink flowers may be obscured by the shiny round green leaves. Foliage turns orange-red in fall. Finally, the berries persist into winter, or until the birds pick them clean.


The hardest part of growing cotoneaster is pronouncing it correctly (it’s “ko-TON-ee-AS-ter”). These shrubs thrive with little attention, handling poor soils, full sun to afternoon shade, and moderately low amounts of water. New shrubs should be coddled a bit until vigorous growth begins. Give plants room to spread, pruning only to remove oldest wood and enhance appearance. As with all members of the rose family, cotoneasters are occasionally susceptible to fire blight; some new varieties are tolerant of this disease. The many different species in cultivation vary in hardiness. Most will survive zone 4 or 5 winters, but check the label for the variety you are purchasing.


There is a size and shape for every use. Spreading plants under three feet high make good groundcovers. Try planting them where their arching branches can spill over a wall. Small, stiffly erect shrubs may be used as informal hedges. Tall, fountain-shaped growers form good screens.

Contributed by Leslie Holzmann, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 520-7684 or

Photo courtesy of Leslie Holzmann, Colorado Master Gardener

Elderberries - Wikipedia-1APPEARANCE

Elderberries are upright, spreading shrubs that grow six to twelve feet high. Their leaves are opposite and compound with five to eleven leaflets. Leaves also have serrated margins. Their showy, white flower-clusters generally are six-to-ten inches in diameter and have a pleasant fragrance. The fruit is a smooth globular berry that measures three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter. The broad, flat clusters of berries, which ripen in early August to late September, are deep purple to black.


Elderberries are drought and cold tolerant. They also tolerate almost any moisture condition and soil type in full sun or part shade. They grow in Zones 2-9 with a preferred pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Some elderberries are partially self-fruitful and generally show increased fruit-set when two or more cultivars are planted within close proximity.  Plant elderberries five to seven feet on center to accommodate air circulation. Plant bare root stock or rooted cuttings in early spring and container-grown plants anytime during the growing season. It’s important to cultivate these shrubs carefully, because the root system is shallow and can easily be damaged. Prune each winter, thinning out spindly suckers and removing all wood older than 3 years.

Elderberries have few pests, and natural predators often control outbreaks.


Elderberries are native shrubs that produce fruit used in jellies, pies and wine. The fruit is seedy and tart, but high in vitamin C. These shrubs also are used for landscaping and wildlife habitat. To harvest, cut whole clusters off when fruits are dark blue or purplish black and soft to the touch. Clusters of white flowers are also edible.

Contributed by Nadine Salmons, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at (719) 520-7684 (new number) or