The Q&A Archives: No Berries

Question: Bought one of your Kasan Pyracantha Sept. '93, ($19,99 Tag #548156). At time of purchase and planting it had berries on it, but at the next growing season and up to this date it has failed to produce any berries. The foliage is excellent. Any answers to my problem? Is there such a situation as with Hollies in which one must have a male and female for berry production? I just bought another of your Hollies today and am contemplating buying another Pyracantha.

Answer: Pyracantha coccinea Kasan does not require a male plant for pollination, so that would not be the problem. The most common reasons for lack of fruiting are growing the plant in too much shade, harsh winter weather and/or freak spring frosts killing the flower buds, infection with fireblight or scab, or most common -- pruning at the wrong time(s). Overfertilizing can also contribute to reduced berry production.

This plant really needs full sun all day long to grow and fruit its best. Any degree of shade will reduce fruiting proportionately. So a minimum suggested amount would be at least six hours of full sun including the hour of noon.

The flower buds form during the summer for the following year's display so pruning in summer, fall, winter or early spring will remove the flower buds and if there are no blooms, there will be no berries.

Since the foliage looks good year round, I will assume it is not growing in an exposed location subject to winter damage.

Unless grown as an espalier, these shrubs need little pruning. Any pruning aimed at thinning the plant or controlling size would be done inmmediately after flowering to preserve fruiting spurs, or perhaps to tidy the plant as a light tip pruning in the spring to remove only a small amount of the plant. Any substantial pruning would be done in late winter to early spring, but this would of course remove flowering wood.

Finally, in some cases stress will cause the blooms or berries to dry up and fall off prematurely. The droughts we have been experiencing, for example, although pyracantha is somewhat drought tolerant, could contribute to stress. I hope this helps you trouble shoot your pyracantha.

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