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Plants from the Ground Up

Corokia cotoneaster – Wire Netting Bush

I am a huge fan of the wonderfully architectural zig-zagging of this most unusual plant from New Zealand. Corokia cotoneaster is certainly not lush, but the intricate patterns made by the branches create a gorgeous silhouette.

Corokia cotoneaster - WIRE NETTING BUSH

Corokia cotoneaster – WIRE NETTING BUSH

Wire Netting Bush is a curious plant with dark, almost black stems that twist and turn. The stems are covered with tiny, evergreen leaves which are a dark, grey-green above with silver-white undersides. The white undersides have also given it another common name of  ‘ghost plant’. It is theorized that the reason the foliage evolved to be so tiny is that it was once browsed by the now extinct Moa bird. The grazing pressure led it to develop leaves that wouldn’t be attractive for beaks to browse. The leaves are so small that they never obscure the branch pattern, making it interesting year-round. In late-spring into summer the plant has the added bonus of being covered in tiny, yet fragrant, bright-yellow, star-shaped flowers. Having no large leaves to compete with, the blossoms are very showy. Interesting scarlet berries follow the blooms and look like miniature ornaments were hung on the branches.

Corokia cotoneaster - Foliage

Corokia cotoneaster – Foliage

Corokia cotoneaster - Flower

Corokia cotoneaster – Flower

Corokia cotoneaster - Fruit

Corokia cotoneaster – Fruit

This shrub makes a fabulous plant for container or bonsai. Fairly slow-growing, this plant will eventually reach somewhere in the 5-10 foot range. Wire Netting Bush prefers rocky areas with sun or light shade; it flowers more profusely with full sun. This low-maintenance shrub, requires only reasonably well-drained soil and moderate watering. It is a good choice for coastal planting and once established it is quite drought-tolerant. Corokia cotoneaster is hardy to USDA zone 8 and can be kept potted and overwintered in a greenhouse in colder climates.

For more photos and information, see Wire Netting Bush at the Forestfarm Store.

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