Willowleaf Cotoneasters (Cotoneaster salicifolius)
Willowleaf Cotoneasters (cuh-TONE-ee-ass-terz) are evergreen shrubs with a spreading, arching growth habit. The species grows quite tall, but several varieties are low-growing groundcovers, making these plants very versatile in a home landscape. The low-growing shrubs are especially handsome trailing over retaining walls or planted in large groupings on banks. Their leaves are a dark glossy green in summer, turning purplish in winter. The bright red berries on Willowleaf Cotoneasters contrast nicely with the foliage.
Size: Willowleaf Cotoneasters are from 10 to 15 feet high and have a similar spread.
Foliage: The wrinkled, dark green leaves are long and narrow (1 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long and about 1/2 inch wide), somewhat resembling Weeping Willow leaves. Their undersides are hairy and covered with a whitish waxy material. They alternate on the stems. The foliage, which is evergreen, turns purplish during the winter.
Flowers: Small flowers appear in 1 1/2- to 2-inch clusters on Willowleaf Cotoneasters in May or June. In late summer, the plants produce small (less than 1/4 inch) bright red fruits, which are quite handsome against the dark green leaves.
Willowleaf Cotoneaster Choices
Floccosus (fluh-CO-sus): Semi-evergreen in north smaller leaves and flowers, larger fruit. 'Autumn Fire' ('Herbstfeuer'): Good groundcover, growing 2 to 3 feet high; extremely glossy foliage and scarlet fruits lasting into winter. 'Repens' ('Avondrod', 'Dortmund', 'Repandens') (RAY-penz): Good, low-growing groundcover, semi-evergreen in north. 'Scarlet Leader': Excellent low groundcover, growing 1/2 to 1 foot high; forms a solid mat of glossy dark green.