How to Care for a Peking Cotoneaster Hedge
I was trying to decide on what sort of hedge would look good and grow properly in our cold Canadian climate. I did plenty of research over the internet and came across the Peking Cotoneaster. This is an extremely hardy and pest resistant shrub that when placed in a line and spread apart by 12" (inches), becomes a very nice conversation piece indeed.
I went to the local nursery and picked out about twenty shrubs at roughly $17.00 each, making sure the plants were healthy looking before buying. Then I sought out a good soil mixture that my newly acquired shrubs would be happy with. Your local nursery people can help you out with this acquisition. After acquiring enough bags of soil mix, I headed on home to start digging holes in my lawn. I set up a perimeter that stretched down a portion of my driveway and then made a 90-degree right turn to go a short distance across the front of my property.
A Resilient Shrub
The Peking Cotoneaster will grow to a height of six to eight feet which is perfect for a privacy hedge. Temperatures in the minus 30-degree range are fine for this type of shrub as it will grow back in the month of May and become even stronger than the previous year. Small white or pink flowers appear in June and the leaves become a beautiful deep green, somewhat darker than the color of your grass.
Planting and Caring for Your Cotoneaster
Digging and Positioning
After digging my twenty holes at 12" (inches) apart, I poured a little of the bagged soil into each one. While placing one shrub at a time into its new home, I felt a bit of exhilaration coming on and was very happy with what I was doing. This was like looking after a new baby; another member of the family.
The remainder of the soil was put into the holes and gently patted down with my hands so it became firm around each plant. Make sure that your plants are straight and not leaning on an angle.
The water hose was then brought out and with a gentle flow, one by one, each new Cotoneaster was given a good, refreshing drink. These plants are quite hardy and are able to take whatever the sun can throw at them, so be sure to plant in a sunny location. Watering every three or so days during a hot spell will keep the shrubs healthy and green.
The cotoneaster shrub grows quickly and you'll need to prune it back in the 2nd year of growth. As it extends upward and outward, a good pair of electric or manual hedge trimmers will shape your hedge into a thing of beauty. Bugs will not present a problem for this plant, nor will the mosquitoes make this their permanent home. Overall, after all the research I did, this plant deserves a score of 10 out of 10 for hardiness, privacy, and color.
How to Prune: Pruning is quick and easy. Simply prune as much or as little as you like off the top and sides. This not only keeps the appearance of your hedge tidy and clean, but adds to the strength of each stem which provides health and vigor as the fall months approach. You'll notice that your Cotoneaster will begin to grow red berries in late summer to early fall and as the temperature begins to dip, the colors of the leaves become a brilliant red which gives the hedge an entirely different makeover. But after a few weeks and winter gets even closer, the leaves take on a yellowish tinge and eventually fall to the ground.
Farewell, for Now
As you wipe away the tear from your eye and say "farewell until next year, old friend," you notice a flake of snow drifting down from the sky and then turn and head back into your house. You place some kindling and three birch fire logs into the wood stove, then sit back with a hot cup of tea. Next year never seems to come fast enough, but in your mind, you know you've done all you can to help your new friend survive the cold winter months that lie ahead.