Variegated Purple Cotoneaster Cotoneaster atropurpureus 'Variegatus' (v)

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
variegated purple-flowered cotoneaster


The Variegated Purple Cotoneaster is an attractive shrub known primarily for its distinct foliage and berries. Its leaves are small to medium in size and exhibit a mix of green and creamy white colors, giving it the variegated appearance referenced in its name. The edges of the leaves may have a slightly serrated look, enhancing its ornamental quality. During the flowering season, you'll notice small, five-petaled flowers in a delicate pink or white hue. These blooms add a soft contrast to the variegated leaves and attract pollinators like bees. As the seasons change, the flowers give way to deep reddish-purple berries, which are a favorite among birds and add visual interest to the plant, especially in the colder months when the garden can appear bare. The overall shape of the Variegated Purple Cotoneaster is dense and spreading, with branches that frequently arch gracefully. This plant is often used in landscapes for its vibrant foliage and ability to provide year-round visual appeal, thanks to its ever-changing colors from the new leaves in spring to the berries in winter. Its adaptability and decorative nature make it a popular choice for gardens looking to add a splash of variegation to their plant palette.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Variegated Purple Cotoneaster.

    • Common names

      Cotoneaster atropurpureus 'Variegatus' (v).

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      The plant known as Variegated Cotoneaster has parts that can be considered toxic if ingested by humans. Ingestion of berries or other parts of the plant can result in symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

    • To pets

      The Variegated Cotoneaster is also toxic to pets. If ingested, pets may experience symptoms similar to humans, including vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort. Pets might also show signs of weakness or lethargy after ingesting the plant. It is important to keep pets away from the plant and consult a veterinarian if ingestion is suspected.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      5 feet (1.5 meters)

    • Spread

      6 feet (1.8 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Low Maintenance: The Variegated Cotoneaster requires minimal care once established, making it ideal for gardeners seeking low-effort plants.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, it’s capable of withstanding periods of dry conditions, reducing the need for frequent watering.
    • Attracts Wildlife: Berries produced by the plant attract birds, providing food for wildlife and encouraging biodiversity.
    • Year-Round Interest: With evergreen/semi-evergreen foliage, it provides visual interest throughout the year, particularly with its variegated leaves.
    • Hardy: The Variegated Cotoneaster is generally able to withstand cold winter temperatures, making it a good choice for many climates.
    • Erosion Control: Its roots help stabilize soil on slopes, aiding in the prevention of soil erosion.
    • Hedging and Borders: It can be used effectively for shaping hedges and creating garden borders.
    • Decorative Berries: Produces aesthetically appealing red berries that can add a pop of color to the garden.
    • Adaptable: Can thrive in a variety of soil types, assuming the soil is well-drained.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Cotoneaster can serve as a low-maintenance ground cover plant, effectively reducing soil erosion on slopes or uneven terrain.
    • The dense branching pattern of Cotoneaster provides excellent shelter for small wildlife, such as birds and beneficial insects.
    • Cotoneaster berries can be used to make natural dyes, offering hues of green or yellow depending on the mordant used.
    • In landscape design, Cotoneaster can be trained as a bonsai, making a striking miniature tree with its small leaves and colourful berries.
    • Due to its dense foliage, Cotoneaster can be utilized for creating privacy screens or hedges in gardens and parks.
    • The flexible branches of Cotoneaster make it suitable for creating intricate topiary designs in formal gardens.
    • Cotoneasters can act as a nurse plant in reforestation projects, helping to protect young trees as they establish.
    • The plant's ability to thrive in poor soil makes it a good option for rehabilitating and landscaping disturbed lands, such as former industrial sites.
    • Cotoneaster wood is hard and can be used for making small wooden items like handles, though this use is not common due to the plant's size.
    • The fallen leaves of Cotoneaster contribute to the leaf litter, providing organic matter that can improve soil fertility over time.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Variegated Cotoneaster is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Variegated Cotoneaster is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Protection: Cotoneasters in general are often associated with protection because they create dense hedges that can provide a barrier against wind and noise, symbolizing a protective shelter in one's life.
    • Endurance: This plant is known for its ability to survive in harsh conditions, which symbolizes the human trait of endurance and the ability to thrive despite difficulties.
    • Abundance: The abundance of bright berries produced by the Cotoneaster represents prosperity and wealth, both in a material and spiritual sense.
    • Balance: The 'Variegatus' variety, with its variegated leaves, represents balance and harmony in life, due to the balanced pattern of its foliage.

Every 2-3 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 3-5 years
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Variegated Purple Cotoneaster requires moderate watering, approximately 1 gallon every week during its growing season. The soil should be allowed to dry out slightly between waterings to prevent root rot. During the winter months, reduce watering to every other week, ensuring that the soil does not become completely dry. Apply water directly to the base of the plant, avoiding overhead watering to minimize the risk of leaf diseases. Young plants may need more frequent watering to establish a strong root system, while mature plants can tolerate some drought.

  • sunLight

    Variegated Purple Cotoneaster thrives best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers a location where it can receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. However, it can tolerate some light shade, especially in the hotter parts of its range. Avoid deep shade as it can lead to poor foliage color and reduced flowering.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Variegated Purple Cotoneaster is hardy and adapts well to a range of temperature conditions. It can survive minimum temperatures down to about -20°F and is comfortable in the heat up to 100°F. The ideal temperature range for this plant is between 60°F and 80°F. Protection from extreme winter chill is beneficial but not essential.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Variegated Purple Cotoneaster to shape and remove any dead or diseased branches, ideally during late winter or early spring before new growth starts. This helps maintain the desired size and encourages healthy growth. Pruning can be done annually, but major pruning should only occur every few years to avoid excessive stress on the plant. Always use clean, sharp tools to make clean cuts.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Variegated Purple Cotoneaster prefers well-draining soil with a mix of loam, peat, and sand, ensuring good aeration. A slightly acidic to neutral pH, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0, supports optimal growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Variegated Purple Cotoneaster should be repotted every 2-3 years to refresh the soil and encourage healthy growth. It's best to repot in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    The Variegated Purple Cotoneaster is tolerant of a wide range of humidity conditions and thrives in average outdoor humidity levels. It does not require any special humidity adjustments when grown in its preferred environment.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Ensure bright light, cooler temps, and well-draining soil mix.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in well-drained soil, full sun to part shade, protect in extreme cold.

    • Hardiness zone

      5-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The life of Variegated Purple Cotoneaster begins with seed germination, usually in spring, when the temperature and moisture conditions are right for the seeds to sprout. After germination, the seedling grows into a young plant, developing a root system and foliage through the utilization of sunlight and soil nutrients. As it matures, the Variegated Purple Cotoneaster enters a vegetative stage, where it focuses on leaf growth, branching, and the establishment of a woody structure. It reaches maturity and begins its reproductive stage in late spring to early summer, producing small, pink flowers that are attractive to bees and other pollinators. Following pollination, these flowers turn into berry-like pomes, usually red or purple, that contain seeds and serve as a food source for birds and other wildlife, thereby aiding seed dispersal. Finally, as the plant ages, it enters a senescence phase which can occur over several years, where growth slows and the plant may eventually die, completing its life cycle.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time


    • Propogation: The Variegated Purple Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster atropurpureus 'Variegatus') can be propagated more commonly through semi-hardwood cuttings. This is typically done in late summer when the wood is neither too soft nor too brittle. To propagate by cuttings, one must use a sharp cutting tool to take a 4 to 6-inch (about 10 to 15 cm) cutting from a healthy branch, making sure there are at least two sets of leaves on the cutting. The bottom set of leaves should be removed, and the cut end dipped in rooting hormone to encourage root growth. The prepared cutting is then placed in a pot filled with a mixture of peat and perlite or sand, ensuring the leaf nodes where the leaves were removed are below the soil surface. The pot should be kept moist and in indirect light until roots develop, which can be checked by gentle tugging after a few weeks to see if there is resistance, indicating root growth.