Tom Thumb Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster apiculatus

Growing Zone 4-7
  • Height:   8-12″
  • Width:     36-60″
  • Spacing:   36-60″
  • Design Role:

  • Location : Full Sun to part sun
  • Water: Average
  • Fertilizer:  Average
  • Growth Habit: Rounded




Cotoneaster apiculatus, commonly called cranberry cotoneaster, is a dense, broad-upright, somewhat mounding deciduous shrub with stiffly arching branches. Typically grows to 3′ tall with a spread to 6′. Small pinkish flowers in late spring give way to red (cranberry-like) berries (pomes) which mature in late summer and persist into winter. Rounded-ovate glossy green leaves (to 3/4″ long) turn attractive shades of purple, red and bronze in autumn.Genus name comes from the Latin words cotoneum meaning quince and -aster meaning resembling. Specific epithet means terminating abruptly in a short and often sharp point.Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Wide range of soil tolerance. Branches root where they touch the ground.The Tom Thumb Creeping Cotoneaster, Cotoneaster adpressus ‘Tom Thumb’, is an interesting, very dwarf, very dense and compact ground cover-type shrub. This low-maintenance miniature woody shrub prefers drier soil and full to part sun. It is a very charming plant and it is deer resistant.A superb miniature accent, hedge or groundcover formed by spreading branches that display an interesting herringbone pattern. Small white flowers appear in summer, followed by large, beautiful red berries that linger to brighten the fall and winter landscape. Semi-evergreen to deciduous.This tidy, virtuous cotoneaster grows low to the ground and is self-rooting, making it a useful underplanting or ground cover. Unlike most cotoneasters, it doesn’t gobble up space. Instead, the aptly named ‘Tom Thumb’ remains compact at 8 to 12 inches tall with an eventual spread of 3 to 6 feet. It requires little or no pruning. It doesn’t flower or fruit, but its leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall.Since ‘Tom Thumb’ is a relatively slow grower, it also combines well with perennials. Small-flowered plants with delicate foliage, such as Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’ (Zones 3–8) or dwarf Gypsophila repens ‘Rosea’ (Zones 4–7), stand out nicely against its dark, shiny leaves. Gray-leaved plants like catmints (Nepeta spp. and cvs., Zones 3–8), lavenders (Lavandula spp. and cvs., Zones 5–9), and artemisias (Artemisia spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) also contrast well.