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Firethorn Bonsai: Blazing Red Berries


This exquisite beauty must be one of the best overall berry bearing bonsai I’ve ever seen, with just the right combination of berries leaves and space. You might say it’s understated as compared with some others we’ve seen. It’s a Nepal Firethorn (Pyracantha crenulata), in training since 1966, donated to the U.S. National Bonsai & Penjing Museum by Yee-Sun Wu. It’s hard to tell for sure, but I think that’s a stone on the left. 

I grew up in California’s Great Central Valley where hot weather and Firethorns (Pyracantha) are abundant, with equally abundant berries ranging from various reds, through oranges and yellows. In the ground you’ll often see them as hedges as their sharp thorns make them quite impenetrable.

Firethorns take to bonsai culture, but insects, blight and other diseases also take to them, so they need to be raised with plenty of attention to detail. We won’t go into symptoms or treatments here, but there’s plenty of good information online and in books about general treatment for pests and diseases including What’s Wrong with My Plant?

Other than that Firethorns are hardy to zone 6 with good protection and care that is basic to most bonsai. Be sure to give them plenty of sun if you want abundant berries. The same goes for water - they’ll drink a bit more when growing berries (don’t keep the soil soggy though, that’s an invitation to all kinds of problems).

We recommend our regular professional soil mix for almost everything, including Pyracantha and the same goes for our Green Balance slow release pellet fertilizer, which is great for promoting berries.

Just the right amount of berries for this miniature Firethorn (Pyracantha) beauty. It and the pot were done by Mame master Haruyosi (mame is the Japanese name for tiny bonsai. It literally translates as ‘bean’).

Red berries, red pot. Or maybe more accurately, orange and red berries, red pot (colors vary from screen to screen, so it's hard to tell for sure). The tree is a Firethorn (Pyracantha) that belongs to Bill Valavanis. Bill sent it to us with the line I LIKE RED POTS TOO!, in response to a post we did a couple years ago that was titled, Red Bonsai Pots, a Shift in Taste.

Shohin Pyracantha with yellow berries. A couple things jump out. First are the luminous berries (without these, I'm not sure we'd bother). The other thing that jumps out is the funkiness of the roots-turned-lower-trunk. Exposing roots so they become part of the trunk is common practice. In some cases it works, in other cases less so. You can be the judge. The tree belongs to Edson Cordeiro who lives in Brazil. It's from a series titled "Pyracantha em 3 anos de formação" on facebook.

Tiny Pyracantha with smoke by Yoshiyuki Kawada.

Pyracanthas can be prolific bearers of berries and this one is no exception. It's from a post we did in 2012. I don't know who the artist or owner is, but my guess is the tree is in Japan.

I chose this one as much for the pot as the berries. It’s from Bonsai in Japan.

Flowers come first, so maybe we should have started with this sweet little Bonsai Mike Pyracantha that we originally featured way back in 2010. 

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