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Cotoneaster Dammeri: Complete Species Guide

Cotoneaster Dammeri: Complete Species Guide
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    Plant And Garden Secrets

Welcome to this comprehensive guide on Cotoneaster Dammeri, more commonly known as the Bearberry Cotoneaster. This resilient and versatile plant, native to certain regions, has been a favorite among garden enthusiasts and landscape professionals for years.

Throughout this guide, we'll explore the botanical characteristics of this species, its various cultivars, and the optimal conditions for planting and growth. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or just starting out, there's always something new to learn about this remarkable plant. Dive in and discover the wonders of Cotoneaster Dammeri!

Cotoneaster Dammeri (Bearberry Cotoneaster) Botanical Description

The Cotoneaster Dammeri, widely recognized as the Bearberry Cotoneaster, is a gem in the botanical world. As a low-growing, evergreen shrub, its dense nature makes it a prime choice for ground covers in many gardens.

Plant Size and Growth Habit: Typically, this species reaches heights between 1 to 2 feet, spreading horizontally almost 6 feet. Its prostrate growth habit forms a dense carpet-like appearance, covering ground efficiently.

Leaf Characteristics: The leaves are small, elliptical, and possess a dark green hue on the top side. The underside is often a paler green. During fall, these leaves take on a beautiful reddish-bronze color, adding to the plant's ornamental value.

Flowering Details: In late spring to early summer, Cotoneaster Dammeri bursts into life with tiny, five-petaled white or pale pink flowers. These flowers, although small, are quite numerous and form a delightful contrast with the dark green foliage.

Berry Description: Post flowering, the plant produces bright red, shiny berries that persist throughout the winter. Not only are they visually striking against the foliage and snow, but they also attract various bird species, making the garden lively even in colder months. Beware though, they could prove poisonous to pets.

This plant's captivating botanical features, combined with its adaptability and minimal care requirements, ensure its consistent popularity in landscapes and gardens worldwide. Whether used as a ground cover, border, or even in containers, the Bearberry Cotoneaster is bound to leave a lasting impression.

Origin and Distribution

Cotoneaster Dammeri, affectionately known to many as the Bearberry Cotoneaster, finds its roots in the vast landscapes of China. Originating from these regions, the plant has adapted to a diverse range of climates and terrains over millennia.

Historical Spread: From its native land in China, the Bearberry Cotoneaster journeyed, both naturally and with human intervention, across the continents. By the early 20th century, its ornamental appeal and hardy nature had secured its position in European and North American gardens.

Current Global Distribution: Today, Cotoneaster Dammeri is not just limited to its native region or temperate gardens. Due to its adaptability and ornamental attributes, it has found a home in gardens across various continents, from the chilly landscapes of Northern Europe to the warmer climes of the American West Coast.

Habitats and Climates: The Bearberry Cotoneaster thrives in a multitude of habitats. From sunny open meadows to partially shaded woodlands, its versatility is truly commendable. The plant particularly flourishes in well-draining soils, which mimic its original habitat in the mountainous regions of China.

Invasiveness Concerns: While its rapid spread and adaptability make it a favorite among gardeners, it's essential to note that in some regions, particularly in parts of North America, it's considered invasive. The plant's capability to outcompete native flora can disrupt local ecosystems.

Understanding the origin and distribution of Cotoneaster Dammeri helps appreciate its global journey. From the mountains of China to gardens worldwide, its appeal remains universal, a testament to nature's ability to transcend boundaries.

The Cotoneaster Dammeri, or Bearberry Cotoneaster, is not just a single entity in horticultural circles. Over the years, keen gardeners and botanists have cultivated a variety of forms to cater to different aesthetic and environmental needs. Each cultivar brings its unique characteristics to the table, further enriching the family of this remarkable plant.

‘Coral Beauty’: Recognized for its spectacular berry display, 'Coral Beauty' produces a profusion of coral-red berries that stand out brilliantly against its green foliage. This variety is particularly resilient and offers a dense, ground-hugging growth habit.

‘Lowfast’: True to its name, ‘Lowfast’ is a rapid-spreading, low-growing cultivar. With its vibrant green leaves turning to shades of red during the fall, it's a garden favorite for borders and pathways.

‘Mooncreeper’: An intriguing variant, ‘Mooncreeper’ is known for its sprawling, creeping nature. It's an excellent choice for covering large areas, with its miniature pinkish-white flowers giving way to deep red berries.

Special Mentions:

  • ‘Streib's Findling’: A compact form, it's perfect for small gardens or container growth.
  • ‘Eichholz’: Boasting larger leaves than most other cultivars and a dense growth habit, it's a popular choice for those seeking a more pronounced ground cover.

Each of these cultivars has been bred to maximize specific attributes of the original Cotoneaster Dammeri. Whether you're seeking prolific berry displays, specific growth habits, or unique foliage characteristics, there's likely a Bearberry Cotoneaster cultivar that perfectly matches your needs.

Experimenting with these varieties can add depth, texture, and color to your garden, offering new dimensions and points of interest throughout the seasons.

Planting and Growing Conditions

The allure of the Cotoneaster Dammeri, or Bearberry Cotoneaster, is not merely its ornamental charm. Its ability to thrive under various conditions, when provided the right start, is a significant aspect of its appeal. To ensure a flourishing growth, it's essential to understand and emulate its natural habitat to the best of one's ability.

Soil Type and pH Requirements: Cotoneaster Dammeri is quite forgiving when it comes to soil. However, it prefers well-draining soil to prevent root rot. A pH level of 6.0 to 7.5, leaning towards neutral, is ideal for its growth.

Light Conditions: While the Bearberry Cotoneaster can tolerate a range of light conditions, it thrives best in full sun to partial shade. Providing it with ample sunlight ensures a more dense growth and a prolific bloom during the flowering season.

Watering Needs and Frequency: Newly planted Cotoneaster requires regular watering until it establishes a strong root system. Once established, it is drought-tolerant and requires minimal watering, making it an excellent choice for xeriscaping.

Temperature and Hardiness Zones: This plant is hardy and can withstand colder climates. It generally thrives in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 7. While it can handle frost, during extremely cold conditions, it might benefit from a protective layer of mulch.

Mulching and Fertilization: A thin layer of organic mulch can help retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. As for fertilization, a balanced slow-release fertilizer applied in the spring can promote growth and berry production.

Understanding and providing the right planting and growing conditions for Cotoneaster Dammeri will ensure a lush, verdant spread dotted with its signature flowers and berries. Given the right start and minimal ongoing care, this plant can transform spaces with its year-round beauty.

Care and Maintenance

The Cotoneaster Dammeri, while innately hardy and self-reliant, will undoubtedly reward attentive care with a more resplendent display. Offering the right blend of maintenance and allowing it to naturally flourish will result in a garden piece that's both enchanting and enduring.

Pruning and Shaping: One of the prime advantages of the Bearberry Cotoneaster is its inherent growth structure. However, occasional pruning can help maintain its shape, especially in more formal garden settings. Late winter or early spring, before the onset of new growth, is the ideal time to prune. Remove dead or diseased branches and thin out any overcrowded areas to allow sunlight penetration and air circulation.

Watering After Establishment: Though drought-tolerant once established, consistent watering during prolonged dry periods can ensure continued vibrancy. Over-watering or letting the plant sit in water can lead to root rot, so ensure proper drainage.

Dealing with Pests and Diseases: While generally resistant to most pests and diseases, watch out for common issues like aphids, spider mites, and fireblight. Regularly inspect the plant, especially during warmer months, and treat any infestations early.

Mulching: Refreshing the mulch layer annually helps retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and protect the plant's roots, especially in regions with harsh winters. However, make sure not to pile mulch directly against the stems to avoid potential rot.

Fertilization: An annual feed in early spring with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer can provide the necessary nutrients for growth and berry production. Avoid excessive fertilization, as this can lead to excessive growth at the expense of flower and berry production.

A symbiotic relationship forms between gardeners and their plants. With consistent, albeit minimal, care and maintenance, the Bearberry Cotoneaster becomes not just a garden feature but a testament to the gardener's dedication, bearing vibrant foliage, flowers, and berries as its show of gratitude.

Propagation Techniques

Cotoneaster Dammeri, or the Bearberry Cotoneaster, is as generous in its propagation as it is in its ornamental appeal. With several methods available for multiplying this resilient plant, gardeners can easily expand their ground cover or share this gem with fellow enthusiasts. Here are the predominant techniques:

Seed Propagation:

  • Collection: Collect the ripe berries during late summer or early fall. Mash the berries to extract seeds and clean them thoroughly.
  • Stratification: For best germination results, seeds benefit from cold stratification. Mix the seeds with moist sand and refrigerate for about 3 months.
  • Planting: Once stratified, sow the seeds in a well-draining potting mix, covering them lightly. Ensure consistent moisture until germination.


  • Timing: Late spring to early summer, when the plant is in active growth, is the ideal time for taking semi-hardwood cuttings.
  • Procedure: Snip 4-6 inch lengths from healthy shoots, ensuring each cutting has a few leaves. Dip the cut end into rooting hormone for better success.
  • Planting: Insert the cuttings into a mix of sand and peat, ensuring high humidity, either through a plastic cover or regular misting.


  • Natural Propagation: Cotoneaster Dammeri has a natural propensity to root wherever its stems touch the ground. You can exploit this trait by gently pegging down branches to the soil until they establish roots.
  • Tip Layering: In this method, bury the tips of long shoots in the ground. Over time, they will develop roots and can be severed from the parent plant.


  • Best for Established Plants: Mature Cotoneaster can be divided during the dormant season. Dig up the plant, ensuring you get a good root ball, and divide it into sections. Each section can then be replanted.

Each propagation method has its advantages, depending on the gardener's resources and intentions. Whether aiming for mass propagation or just a few new plants, a bit of patience and care will ensure a new generation of Cotoneaster Dammeri to adorn gardens and landscapes.

Landscape Use and Design Ideas

The Cotoneaster Dammeri, with its sprawling habit, glossy leaves, and brilliant berries, serves not just as a plant but as a veritable tool in the landscape designer's palette. Its versatility can transform gardens, making it an indispensable asset in various landscape scenarios. Let's explore some imaginative ways to integrate the Bearberry Cotoneaster into your green spaces.

Ground Cover:

  • Hill and Slope Stabilization: With its rapid growth and dense matting, it’s an ideal choice for stabilizing slopes, preventing soil erosion, and adding visual appeal.
  • Lawn Alternatives: For areas with low foot traffic, consider replacing traditional grass with this low-maintenance, evergreen beauty. It offers year-round interest with minimal upkeep.

Borders and Edges:

  • Pathway Lining: Planting Cotoneaster Dammeri along pathways can create an elegant border, guiding visitors through the garden.
  • Driveway Edges: Soften the harsh edges of driveways with its sprawling growth, offering a green embrace to otherwise stark landscapes.
  • Hedging: Cotoneaster is a popular plant used in the creation of hedges.

Container Gardening:

  • Even in confined spaces, Bearberry Cotoneaster can shine. Whether in patio pots, balcony boxes, or rooftop gardens, its cascading branches create a verdant waterfall effect.

Wildlife Attraction:

  • Birds: The bright berries serve as a food source for various birds during winter, making your garden a haven for winged visitors.
  • Pollinators: In bloom, the plant attracts a plethora of pollinators, enhancing biodiversity in your green space.

Architectural Features:

  • Wall and Building Skirts: Allow Cotoneaster Dammeri to grow against walls or around building bases. Its contrasting texture can soften the appearance of hard architectural elements.

Companion Plants:

  • Pair with taller shrubs or ornamental grasses for layered aesthetics. Consider plants like Lavender or Salvia for a burst of color during flowering seasons.

Incorporating Cotoneaster Dammeri into your landscape is more than just planting; it's an act of design. By understanding its growth habits and characteristics, you can unlock its potential to transform spaces, making your garden not just a collection of plants but a cohesive, evolving artwork.

Environmental Benefits

Beyond the ornamental allure of the Cotoneaster Dammeri lies a more profound significance: its contribution to our environment. Plants, while often chosen for their visual appeal, play a pivotal role in sustaining ecosystems and supporting biodiversity. The Bearberry Cotoneaster is no exception. Here’s a glimpse into the environmental dividends offered by this resilient plant.

Soil Conservation:

  • Erosion Control: The dense, sprawling growth of Cotoneaster Dammeri acts as a protective mesh over the soil, reducing the impact of raindrops and preventing the washing away of topsoil, especially on slopes and banks.
  • Soil Health: Its root system aids in improving soil structure. It creates channels for water and air, enhancing soil health and fertility over time.

Habitat Creation:

  • Shelter: The thick mat formed by the plant offers refuge for many ground-dwelling creatures, from beneficial insects to small mammals.
  • Food Source: The berries are a winter delicacy for various bird species, ensuring they have sustenance in the colder months when food is scarce.

Air Quality Improvement:

  • Carbon Sequestration: Like all plants, Cotoneaster Dammeri absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen, playing its part in combatting the greenhouse effect.
  • Pollutant Absorption: Plants can absorb a variety of airborne pollutants, acting as living filters and improving overall air quality.

Biodiversity Booster:

  • Attracting Pollinators: During its blooming season, the small, delicate flowers of the Bearberry Cotoneaster are magnets for bees, butterflies, and other essential pollinators.
  • Integrated Pest Management: By hosting beneficial insects, it helps in naturally controlling pest populations in gardens, reducing the need for chemical interventions.

Water Conservation:

  • Drought Resistance: Once established, Cotoneaster Dammeri requires minimal watering. This makes it a wise choice for xeriscaping, conserving precious water resources.

Thermal Regulation:

  • On a micro-scale, the dense growth provides a cooling effect in areas where it’s planted, reducing the heat island effect, especially in urban settings.

Embracing Cotoneaster Dammeri in landscapes isn't just an aesthetic decision but an ecological one. Each plant, in its quiet, persistent manner, champions the cause of a balanced ecosystem, reminding us that beauty and utility often walk hand in hand in nature's grand design.

Potential Concerns

While Cotoneaster Dammeri (Bearberry Cotoneaster) offers numerous benefits to gardens and landscapes, responsible gardening mandates an awareness of potential issues associated with any plant. Here are some concerns that gardeners and landscapers might encounter:


  • Rapid Spread: Given the right conditions, Cotoneaster Dammeri can spread aggressively, potentially outcompeting native plants. This rapid spread may not be suitable for all garden types, especially naturalistic or wild gardens.
  • Berry Dispersal: Birds are fond of the bright berries and play a role in dispersing the seeds to areas beyond the garden, sometimes leading to unplanned growth in unintended areas.

Susceptibility to Diseases and Pests:

  • Fire Blight: This bacterial disease can cause wilting and blackening of branches, resembling fire damage. Prompt removal of infected parts can help manage this disease.
  • Aphids and Spider Mites: These pests can weaken the plant and reduce its ornamental value. Monitoring and early intervention are crucial.

Allergenic Potential:

  • Some individuals might be allergic to the pollen, which can lead to mild allergic reactions during the blooming season.

Non-Native Status:

  • In some regions, Cotoneaster Dammeri is not native, which might not align with native planting goals aiming to support local biodiversity.

Berry Toxicity:

  • While a food source for birds, the berries are not meant for human consumption and can be mildly toxic. This is particularly important to note in gardens accessible to children.

Water Usage in Establishment Phase:

  • Though drought-tolerant once established, young plants require consistent watering, which might raise concerns in areas with water scarcity.

Awareness is the first step towards mitigation. By understanding these concerns, gardeners can make informed choices on plant placement, companions, and care techniques to ensure that Cotoneaster Dammeri enhances the landscape while minimizing potential drawbacks.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you care for a bearberry cotoneaster?

  • Bearberry Cotoneaster, or Cotoneaster Dammeri, is relatively low-maintenance. Once established, it requires minimal watering, especially in regions with regular rainfall. During prolonged dry periods, occasional deep watering is beneficial. Fertilize in early spring with a balanced fertilizer, and mulch around the plant to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Regularly monitor for pests and diseases to ensure the plant remains healthy.

What is the height and spread of Cotoneaster Dammeri?

  • Cotoneaster Dammeri is a low-growing, sprawling plant. Typically, it reaches a height of about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm), but its spread can be more expansive, covering an area up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) or more, especially when given the space and conditions to thrive.

Should Cotoneaster Dammeri be pruned?

  • Pruning is not strictly necessary for the health of the plant, but it can be beneficial for shape, size control, or rejuvenation. Light pruning can be done in late winter or early spring to remove any dead or diseased branches and to maintain the desired form.

Can Bearberry Cotoneaster be cut back hard?

  • Yes, Cotoneaster Dammeri can tolerate hard pruning if needed, especially to rejuvenate an older plant or control its spread. If you decide to hard prune, do so in late winter or early spring. The plant will typically respond with vigorous new growth in the following season.

Is it illegal to plant Cotoneaster Dammeri?

  • In some regions, due to its potential invasiveness, planting Cotoneaster Dammeri might be discouraged or regulated. It's essential to consult local gardening or environmental authorities before introducing any plant species to ensure it aligns with local ecological goals and guidelines.


The journey through the multifaceted world of Cotoneaster Dammeri, or Bearberry Cotoneaster, paints a vivid picture of nature's intricacy. This humble ground cover, with its radiant berries and glossy leaves, carries with it tales of history, ecological importance, and boundless gardening potential.

In today's era of urbanization, introducing such green enclaves into our surroundings has become not just a luxury but a necessity. It's a nod to a harmonious coexistence with nature, where every plant has its unique role and message. Bearberry Cotoneaster, in its silent, unassuming manner, beckons gardeners and nature enthusiasts alike to appreciate the subtler nuances of the green world. Whether it's in the birds it attracts or the soil it protects, its value transcends its ornamental charm.

As we wrap up this guide, it's evident that successful gardening is a blend of knowledge, passion, and responsibility. The Bearberry Cotoneaster is but one chapter in the vast encyclopedia of horticulture. Yet, its story serves as a reminder that every plant, every leaf, and every berry is a testament to the wondrous tapestry of life that nature weaves around us.

In the end, whether you're a seasoned gardener or a curious novice, the invitation remains the same: to plant, to nurture, and to marvel. For in the act of gardening, we not only cultivate plants but also sow the seeds of wonder, gratitude, and connection.