This Is Why You Should Grow a Firethorn Bush

Updated: Nov. 30, 2023

Plant a firethorn bush in your yard to welcome birds and bees while providing year-round beauty. This shrub features colorful fruit and flowers.

Attractive in all four seasons thanks to blooms and berries, firethorn bush has a lot to offer. But beware: It boasts thick, stiff branches that are covered in thorns. (For protection, find the best gardening gloves for the whole family.) Some gardeners use firethorn as a barrier shrub for privacy but, luckily, the thorns won’t keep birds, bees and other pollinators from stopping by. The shrub can be trained to grow up a wall.

Check out 7 backyard birds that eat berries.

How to Grow a Firethorn Bush

Scarlet firethornShutterstock / TMSARA
Scarlet firethorn
  • Pyracantha
  • Zones 5 to 10
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Size: 6 to 15 feet tall and wide

Easily adaptable to many conditions, firethorn offers year-round interest. Enjoy the beauty of its white flowers in spring and orange fruits from fall through winter.

Before planting, check whether the shrub is invasive in your area. Choose one that is resistant to fire blight.

A firethorn bush will grow up to 15 feet high and wide, although dwarf varieties like Red Elf are available.

Check out the top 10 small shrubs for small spaces.

Firethorn Bush Wildlife Benefits

Young house finch bird perching on firethorn bushLux Blue/Getty Images
Young house finch perching on a firethorn shrub

Birds such as cedar waxwings are attracted to the shrub’s orange and red fruits (which look like berries but are actually pomes). If birds ingest overripe fruits, they may act strangely and almost appear intoxicated but this is not harmful. In winter, birds also use the branches as shelter, and in spring and summer they build nests among the glossy foliage.

If you’re looking for bee-friendly cultivars, give Golden Charmer and Orange Glow a try.

See more of our top picks for trees and shrubs with berries for birds.

Berries Provide Winter Interest

The colorful berries of firethorn add a welcome pop of color in fall and winter, and the glossy green leaves stay evergreen in more mild climates. This shrub is an especially nice choice for winter container gardens. 

Woody plant expert Michael Dirr says it best: “For fruit display in the winter garden, few plants rival pyracanthas.”

Next, follow these tips for protecting shrubs in winter.