Cotoneaster 'Tom Thumb'
Dwarf Rockspray
 
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Family: Rose Family (Rosaceae)
Native Habitat: Unknown

 

Rocksprays are a group of shrubs that have declined in popularity in recent years. We think that is unfortunate since they do offer a lot of nice ornamental qualities and are easy to grow. However, one Cotoneaster that knowledgeable gardeners continue to admire and grow is 'Tom Thumb'. The origins of Tom are a bit mysterious and subject to debate. Some place it as a variety of Cotoneaster apiculatus, others as a relative of C. horizontalis or maybe C. adpressus. To further confuse matters, it's also sometimes sold as Cotoneaster 'Little Gem'. Really its origins and nomenclature are pretty unimportant. The fact that it is a top rate ornamental is all that matters.

A great specimen for the rock garden, 'Tom Thumb' is well named for its diminutive form and well behaved manners. The normal specimen hugs the ground and reaches only 4 to 8" high. An old specimen may mound to 1 ft. It's a very slow spreader to 3 or 4 ft. wide. The shiny foliage is closely spaced and quite dense. Unlike most other Cotoneasters, it does not flower or fruit. In autumn the leaves turn an exquisite brilliant-red.

Ornamental Characteristics:
Small shiny green leaves on dense layered branches. Excellent fall color. Does not flower or fruit.
Habit & Growth Rate:
Slow growing deciduous shrub. Usually 4 to 8" high and reaching 1 ft. after many years. Slowly spreading to 3 or 4 ft.
Landscape Uses:
Rock garden. Along pathways. Best when can be viewed at close distance. Deer resistant.
Hardiness:
Zone 4 to 7.
Culture:
Full sun or light shade. Average to well drained soils.