Pyracantha species

Firethorns make attractive small to medium-size bonsai. The species used most frequently are Pyracantha angustifolia and P. coccinea. They have elongate oval leaves and clusters of attractive white flowers in late spring and early summer. These are followed by abundant stalked scarlet berries in early autumn; some varieties bear orange or yellow berries.

As the name suggests, firethorn has prominent thorns although these can be absent in some forms; this can be preferable for small bonsai where the thorns may be disproportionately large. Mature throne can be easily cut off. and, as thorns develop at the tips of branches, regular pinching out of new growth will reduce or eliminate them. 

Firethorns are easily  trained to a range of bonsai styles and are good subjects for the beginner. Wiring needs to be done on newer growth as older branches can become very brittle and may snap easily.

Firethorns can be grown readily from seed but, if you want a particular berry colour or to have a tree without thorns, you will need to propagate by cuttings or layering from the desired parent stock. Cuttings strike very easily from the current season's growth.

Firethorns flourish with regular fertilizing and repotting should usually be done at least every two years. Some growers suggest removing all the flower buds in alternate years to prevent fruiting so that all the energy of the tree is diverted into trunk and branch development.

Further information 

Firethorn care sheet - another excellent guide from the Bonsai Tool Chest site.
Pyracantha progress series - tracks development of three mature firethorn bonsai.

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