Why the prickly pyracantha should be in everyone’s garden this fall

This evergreen perennial provides food and shelter for birds and can deter unwelcome intruders too, so add it to your planting list this fall

red berries on a pyracantha shrub in fall
(Image credit: Phil Degginger/Alamy Stock Photo)

If you're thinking of adding some new plants to your plot this fall, experts agree that there's one option you should definitely consider adding to your wishlist. 

The colorful pyracantha is one of the best plants with winter berries you can choose for your garden, and will provide plentiful food for birds such as blackbirds, thrushes and robins as colder weather arrives in fall and winter.

'It’s a great climber for wildlife as its spring flowers and the berries which appear in fall give seasonal food for garden visitors,' says Katie Middleton, spokesperson for Garden Buildings Direct (opens in new tab).

pyracanthra bush with red berries

(Image credit: Suttons)

Why pyracantha is the perfect fall plant

Pyracantha is also known as firethorn – a reference to its bright colors. Varieties are available in red, orange and yellow. Masses of white flowers in springtime attract pollinators too. 

Related to the rose family and grown in the UK since the 1500s, it’s known as an inexpensive and easy-to-find perennial that will thrive well in any kind of soil. 

Because it’s an evergreen with lots of glossy leaves, pyracantha provides shelter for birds all year-round. However, those leaves hide the famous thorns that make it such a good burglar deterrent, so the advice is always to take care when pruning and wear gloves.

'If you would prefer a less prickly customer, consider opting for a cotoneaster instead, which shares many similar features with pyracantha whilst being totally thornless,' says Olivia Drake, horticultural expert from Thompson & Morgan (opens in new tab).

red berries on a pyracantha plant

(Image credit: Thompson & Morgan)

Evergreen favorite

Monty Don (opens in new tab) says he likes to use pyracantha in a border because 'it’s a really good evergreen option'. It’s certainly an easy-to-grow evergreen that is as happy in a pot as it is scrambling along a wall. 

'I view pyracantha as the perfect garden guest,' says garden blogger Sarah Shoesmith at The Gardening Shoe (opens in new tab). 'It behaves exactly as I wish because it is trainable. It does not mind being clipped so it makes a useful hedging plant, but when shaped into an espalier it is a stylish, eye-catching and structurally-valuable addition to the garden.'

pyracantha bush covered in lots of red berries

(Image credit: Phil Degginger/Alamy Stock Photo)

Security feature

It’s a great option for a wildlife garden, but pyracantha doesn’t like intruders. Train the plant along the perimeter of a property and its thorns will form an impenetrable security barrier to help protect your home. 

'Rather than installing a wall or fence which can be very costly, time-consuming and vulnerable to damage, planting intruder-repelling spiky plants provides you with an environmentally friendly, long-lasting barrier for a fraction of the cost,' says a spokesperson for hedging plant specialists Hedges Direct

Will you be adding this versatile plant with autumn berries to your plot this fall?

Jayne Dowle
Freelance writer

Jayne Dowle is an award-winning gardening, homes and property writer who writes for publications including Sunday Times Home, Times Bricks & Mortar, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and The Spectator. She was awarded the Garden Journalist of the Year accolade at the Property Press Awards in 2021.