Cotoneaster hessei
Common Name: cotoneaster 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Rosaceae
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Reddish pink
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Drought, Air Pollution

Culture

Best grown in moist, loamy, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Good drainage is important. Avoid wet, poorly-drained soils. This is a tough and adaptable plant that can withstand considerable poor soils. Established plants tolerate drought. Container-grown plants may be spaced 4-5’ apart for mass plantings. Propagate by stem cuttings. If correctly sited, plants may require little pruning. Plants dislike hot summer conditions and often struggle south of USDA Zone 7.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cotoneaster hessei, sometimes commonly called Hesse cotoneaster, is a low-growing, deciduous, shrubby ground cover that rises to 18” tall but spreads over time to as much as 5’ wide. Although the Royal Horticultural Society lists this plant as a species, it is unclear as to whether the origin of the plant has been conclusively determined. The plant was originally developed by Hesse Nursery of Weener, Germany in the early 1930s. Some authorities report that it is a hybrid cross between C. horizontalis and C. adpressus var. praecox. Regardless of nomenclature, it features arching branches clothed with round to elliptic, glossy dark green leaves (to 1/2” long) that are attractive throughout the growing season. Leaves turn reddish purple in fall. Tiny, five-petaled, reddish-pink flowers appear in spring (May). Bees are attracted to the flowers. Flowers are followed by bright red fruits (1/ 4” wide) that mature in late summer to fall but remain on the plant throughout much of winter. This cotoneaster was selected at the Morton Arboretum for introduction by Chicagoland Grows which named it a recommended plant in 1989. This plant is sometimes listed for sale in a variety of different ways including C. hessei, C. x hessei , C. ‘Hessei’ and C. horizontalis ‘Hessei’.

Genus name comes from the Latin words cotoneum meaning quince and -aster meaning resembling.

Specific epithet honors Hesse Nursery of Weener, Germany.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Susceptible to fireblight, leaf spots, canker, cotoneaster webworm and lacebug. Mites may appear, particularly in hot and dry conditions. Dense foliage can present maintenance problems because of the difficulty of cleaning dead leaves and trash from the interior of a planting.

Uses

This cotoneaster is a valuable landscape plant that offers good foliage, small but attractive flowers and showy red fruit. Group or mass as a woody ground cover for sunny areas in the landscape. Sprawl over rocks in rock gardens or along stone walls. Sunny foundation areas.