Willowleaf Cotoneaster Cotoneaster salicifolius

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
willow-leaved cotoneaster


Cotoneaster salicifolius, commonly known as Willowleaf Cotoneaster, is an evergreen shrub noted for its elegant form and attractive foliage. The leaves are reminiscent of those found on willow trees, being long, narrow, and slightly curved, hence the name 'Willowleaf'. They are a dark, glossy green on the top with a paler underside and have fine serrations along their edges, giving them a delicate texture. Throughout the seasons, these leaves provide a dense and lush appearance, maintaining their color year-round. In spring, the Willowleaf Cotoneaster becomes a source of gentle beauty as it blooms with small white to pale pink flowers. These blossoms are modest in size but typically cover the plant in such profusion that they create a stunning display. The flowers are not only attractive to the eye but also to various pollinating insects. Following the flowering period, the shrub produces bright red berries, which are small, round, and clustered. The contrast of the red berries against the green foliage is particularly striking and adds to the ornamental value of the plant. The berries persist well into winter, providing visual interest in the garden during the colder months and offering a food source for birds. The branches of the Willowleaf Cotoneaster grow in a somewhat haphazard pattern, giving the shrub a layered and slightly arching appearance which can add to its charm. It is commonly used in gardens for its ability to create low hedges or as a ground cover due to its sprawling habit. The Willowleaf Cotoneaster can be employed effectively in a variety of garden settings, contributing evergreen structure and year-long appeal.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Willowleaf Cotoneaster, Weeping Cotoneaster.

    • Common names

      Cotoneaster salicifolius var. floccosus, Cotoneaster salicifolius var. repens, Cotoneaster affinis, Cotoneaster bullatus, Cotoneaster frigidus var. salicifolius, Cotoneaster lacteus, Cotoneaster rhytidophyllus.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Willowleaf cotoneaster is generally considered to have a low level of toxicity to humans. However, ingestion of the berries could potentially cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If large quantities of the berries are consumed, it could lead to more severe symptoms, but such cases are rare, and the plant is not typically associated with serious health risks to humans.

    • To pets

      Willowleaf cotoneaster is also known to be mildly toxic to pets, such as dogs and cats. Consuming parts of the plant, particularly the berries, can result in gastrointestinal upset, manifested as vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain. While serious complications are uncommon, it’s still advisable to keep an eye on pets that may have ingested parts of this plant and consult a veterinarian if any concerning symptoms arise.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 meters)

    • Spread

      6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attracts Wildlife: Cotoneaster salicifolius is known to produce small red or black berries that attract birds and other wildlife to the garden, creating a dynamic and lively ecosystem.
    • Low Maintenance: It requires minimal care once established, only needing occasional pruning to maintain shape and size, making it ideal for busy or novice gardeners.
    • Drought Tolerance: Once established, it can tolerate periods of drought, making it suitable for xeriscaping and reducing the need for frequent watering.
    • Erosion Control: Its dense and spreading root system helps prevent soil erosion, especially on slopes or banks, by stabilizing the soil.
    • Aesthetic Appeal: The plant offers year-round visual interest with its glossy foliage, flowers, and berries, enhancing the landscape's beauty across seasons.
    • Adaptability: It has the ability to adapt to a variety of soil types, though it prefers well-drained soil, which means it can be grown in a range of garden conditions.
    • Privacy Screening: The dense foliage and growth habit make it suitable for use as a hedge or privacy screen, offering a natural and attractive barrier.
    • Frost Hardy: Cotoneaster salicifolius is resistant to frost, making it a robust choice for gardens in colder climates.
    • Ground Cover: The low-growing varieties can act as an effective ground cover, suppressing weeds and reducing landscape maintenance.

  • 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 salicifolius, commonly known as Willowleaf Cotoneaster, can be used in topiary gardens due to its dense foliage and growth pattern, allowing it to be sculpted into various shapes.
    • Being drought-tolerant once established, it is suitable for xeriscaping designs, which require minimal irrigation and can create water-efficient landscapes.
    • The dense branching structure of Willowleaf Cotoneaster provides excellent shelter for birds and other wildlife, which use it as nesting and hiding places.
    • Its berries, while inedible for humans, serve as a food source for birds during the late summer and fall months when other resources might be scarce.
    • The plant's spreading habit makes it an ideal ground cover to prevent soil erosion on slopes and banks, as its roots help to anchor the soil.
    • Willowleaf Cotoneaster can be used in sensory gardens for its tactile qualities; the leaves and branches have varied textures that can be interesting to touch.
    • Its capability to withstand urban pollution makes it a suitable addition to city gardens and landscapes, providing greenery in harsher conditions.
    • This plant can also serve as a natural windbreak or privacy screen due to its dense growth, especially when planted in rows or hedges.
    • The ornamental value of Willowleaf Cotoneaster's cascading branches can be incorporated into hanging basket designs, adding an unusual and attractive foliage display.
    • For bonsai enthusiasts, the small leaves and berries of Willowleaf Cotoneaster make it a candidate for bonsai cultivation, allowing for creative miniature landscapes.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Willowleaf Cotoneaster is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Willowleaf Cotoneaster is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Resilience: Cotoneaster salicifolius, commonly known as Willowleaf Cotoneaster, is a hardy plant that can thrive in various conditions, symbolizing the ability to endure and adapt.
    • Growth: With its expansive and evergreen nature, Willowleaf Cotoneaster represents continuous growth and expansion in one’s life.
    • Protection: The dense foliage of the Willowleaf Cotoneaster provides shelter and protection for birds and wildlife, representing safety and refuge in its symbolism.

Every 2-3 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring to early summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Willowleaf cotoneaster should be watered deeply but infrequently to encourage strong root development. During the initial growth period after planting, water weekly with approximately 1-2 gallons depending on the size of the plant and the weather conditions. Once established, they are quite drought-tolerant and may only need additional watering during prolonged dry spells or extreme heat. During these periods, water every two weeks with about 2 gallons to ensure the soil remains moist but not waterlogged.

  • sunLight

    Willowleaf cotoneaster thrives best in full sun to partial shade conditions. It is adaptable but favors a spot that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth and fruiting. However, it can also tolerate light shade, especially in regions with very intense sun.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Willowleaf cotoneaster is cold-hardy and can tolerate temperatures down to around 0°F, making it suitable for growth in areas that experience freezing winters. Its upper-temperature tolerance can extend beyond 100°F. The optimal temperature range for growing this plant falls between 60°F and 80°F.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune willowleaf cotoneaster to maintain its shape and remove any dead or diseased branches. This should be done annually in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. Pruning at this time allows for better visibility of the plant's structure without the foliage and ensures rapid healing of the cuts with the onset of spring growth.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Willowleaf cotoneaster prefers well-draining soil with a mix of loam, sand, and organic matter such as compost. The ideal soil pH for this plant is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.5. To create the best soil mix, combine two parts loam soil, one part sand for drainage, and one part organic compost to provide nutrients.

  • plantRepotting

    Willowleaf cotoneaster typically does not require frequent repotting and can be done every 2-3 years. They are slow-growing and should be repotted when the plant has become root-bound or the soil has depleted its nutrients. Repotting is best done in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Willowleaf cotoneaster is tolerant of a wide range of humidity levels and does not require a specific humidity to thrive. It is adaptable to the outdoor environment where humidity naturally fluctuates and typically does well in average humidity levels found in most home settings without the need for adjustments.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Provide bright light, well-draining soil, and water moderately.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in sun to partial shade and well-draining soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      7-9 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Cotoneaster salicifolius, commonly known as Willowleaf Cotoneaster, begins its life cycle as a seed that germinates in spring, typically preferring well-drained soils and full to partial sunlight. Following germination, it enters the seedling stage where growth is focused on root and shoot development; this stage is crucial for establishing a robust foundation for future growth. As it progresses into the juvenile stage, the plant starts to develop its characteristic dense, spreading form and begins vegetative growth, producing leaves that are willow-like in shape. After a few years, the plant reaches maturity, where it begins to flower in spring or early summer, displaying small, pinkish-white flowers that attract pollinators like bees and birds. Following pollination, these flowers develop into red to dark purple pomes (berry-like fruits) by autumn, which are dispersed by wildlife, thus completing the reproductive stage. Finally, as a perennial, the Willowleaf Cotoneaster enters a period of senescence over several years, during which growth slows and the plant eventually dies, leaving seeds to start the next generation.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to early summer

    • Propogation: For the Cotoneaster salicifolius, commonly known as Willowleaf Cotoneaster, the most popular method of propagation is by semi-hardwood cuttings. This procedure is generally done in late summer. One selects a healthy branch from the current year's growth and cuts a piece about 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) long, making sure it has several leaves. The bottom end of the cutting is dipped in rooting hormone to encourage root development and then planted in a well-draining soil mix. The cutting should be kept moist and in a location with indirect sunlight until roots have developed, which typically takes several weeks. Once the cutting has rooted, it can be transplanted to a more permanent location in the garden.