Zigzag shrub: care and planting

Zigzag shrub: care and planting


Corokia cotoneaster, as the zigzag shrub is scientifically called, comes from the Argophyllaceae family. The natural range of the shrub are the forests of New Zealand. It occurs in the low to medium-high bush vegetation of the coastal regions. The locations are exposed to wind.

also read

  • How to find a good location for the zigzag shrub
  • The zigzag bush is not poisonous and harmless
  • The zigzag shrub is only partially hardy


Zigzag shrubs develop silver-green foliage. The leaves are very small and ovate or elliptical. The leaf margin has coarse lobes that are more or less deeply incised. The blade tip is tapered. On the underside, the leaves are whitish due to the fine hairs. The petioles are remarkably long compared to the leaf blade. Due to their flattened shape, they appear very broad.


The bizarre shrubs develop small flowers, the bracts of which are colored yellow. Each individual flower is formed from two circles, each with three bracts. The flowers crowd in small groups of two to four. They sit in the leaf axils or at the end of a shoot and give off a weak fragrance that has a slightly sweet character. The flowering period of the wild shrubs extends from December to January. Specimens cultivated in Central Europe bloom in late winter and spring. The flowers emerge before the leaves shoot.


Zigzag shrubs grow as small shrubs, the shoots of which are covered with a white fluff. They shed their leaves in autumn and develop an extraordinary growth habit. After each leaf attachment and knot, the direction of growth of the stem axis changes, resulting in a zigzag overall appearance. The shrubs appear bare due to the small leaves.

While the cultivated specimens of Corokia cotoneatser grow between 150 and 250 centimeters high, the wild shrubs reach heights of up to two meters in their original distribution areas. Their annual growth is small. This form of growth is an adaptation to the wind-exposed locations in the original distribution area, whereby the shrubs remain particularly low and compact in places with strong windy conditions.


Its slow growth rate and good cut tolerance make the zigzag shrub the ideal plant for bonsai design. A cut is possible at any time. Zigzag shrubs can be shaped as a broom or cascade bonsai. The wiring used to create cascades does not cause them any problems.

The first step in growing a bonsai is the design cut. It is used to give the bonsai a basic shape. To do this, remove some large branches, but this decision is often difficult. This cut determines the future appearance of the tree.

In order to shape a bonsai, the pruning is of great importance. Remove the tips of the shoots regularly so that the tree does not grow upwards, but rather stays small and its crown branches. A special variant is the leaf cut, in which all leaves are removed in summer. The zigzag will develop new leaves that are smaller and better match the overall appearance.

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The plant is an insider tip. Zigzag shrubs are cultivated as houseplant, where they add special accents in the form of bonsais or shrubs. Their wild growth in combination with the sparsely developed foliage give the shrubs a dramatic character. They are suitable for beautifying terraces and balconies.

Zigzag shrubs can be planted individually or in small groups of three in a tub. Individually growing specimens form a tree-like shape if you cut the plant accordingly. If several plants grow in one pot, their trunks remain thin because of the limited space available. The arrangement looks like a bush. You can also combine the zigzag shrub with other woody plants or grasses.

Is zigzag poisonous?

Zigzag bushes do not contain toxic substances. Leaves as well as flowers and fruits are harmless. The red fruits that develop on the plant in summer are tempting to eat. It is not advised against, but the taste of the fruit is considered inedible. Hence, there is no need to worry about your children or pets when growing Corokia cotoneaster. The plants pose no danger to cats, dogs and guinea pigs.

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Which location is suitable?

The extraordinary shrubs like a bright location with shady conditions all year round. A location in partial shade is ideal. In hot summer months, the plants are grateful for a cool and shady place so that they do not lose too much liquid through evaporation. Zigzag shrubs prefer cool temperatures between 15 and a maximum of 20 degrees Celsius.

In winter the plants prefer a bright place on the windowsill, whereby the temperatures should be as cool as possible. A winter garden that offers temperatures between five and ten degrees Celsius is ideal. If the thermometer rises above this range in winter, there may be no bloom. Good ventilation is important to keep pests from spreading.

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What soil does the plant need?

The zigzag likes a substrate with well drained conditions. It reacts sensitively to waterlogging, which is why you should equip the bucket with drainage. A humus-rich soil offers the plant a good basis for growth. Potting soil is ideal. You can use the substrate as it is, or loosen it up for better permeability.

This material improves the substrate structure:

  • Clay granules
  • sand
  • Pumice
  • Akadama

Zigzag bush in the pot

The bushes are only cultivated in pots, as the plants would not survive the winter months outdoors. You can cultivate the plant as a bonsai in a shallow bowl.


Zigzag bushes can be placed on the balcony or terrace during the summer months. They like bright and warm locations, but prefer a place outside the blazing sun. Windy conditions do not cause any problems for the plants. You can put the plants outside as early as the spring when they bloom. Then the nectar-filled flowers serve as a valuable source of food for bees and insects. Make sure that temperatures do not drop below 15 degrees Celsius during the day. On cold nights, you should bring the plant in in the evening.


You can propagate your zigzag shrub from seeds or cuttings. Sowing can be done all year round, but you should sow the seeds preferably in spring or summer. Then you can provide the seeds with enough light and warmth. Propagation via cuttings is more promising and easier. Offshoots are cut in spring so that the young plants have enough time to mature and grow before the onset of winter.

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Before sowing the seeds, they must be pre-soaked in lukewarm water. Fill a saucer with tap water and let the seeds sit in it for 24 to 48 hours. Fill a planter with seed soil, which is loosened with sand or perlite. Press the seeds into the substrate, no deeper than an inch in the soil.

Place the plant pot in a light and warm place. The seeds find ideal germination conditions at temperatures between 20 and 23 degrees Celsius. Keep the substrate evenly moist. To do this, you can cover the cultivation vessel with a transparent film. Ventilate the foil daily, otherwise the seeds tend to mold quickly. Propagation via seeds is tedious and not always promising. Not all seeds germinate reliably.


Cut lignified shoots from the plant. The cuttings should be between four and six inches long. The bottom leaves are removed. Put the cuttings in a planter filled with potting soil and place it in a warm and bright place. Make sure that the substrate remains evenly moist. Waterlogging should be avoided, as otherwise the shoots including the newly developed roots can rot.

As soon as the first fresh leaves appear, you can prick out the young plants and place one plant at a time in a larger planter. They then took root. If you pay attention to proper care and do not fertilize the plant in the first year, the offshoot will soon develop into an aesthetic shrub.

Cut the zigzag bush correctly

You don't necessarily have to cut the zigzag shrub. If it is out of shape and has branches that are too long and spoil the overall picture, you can trim these branches at any time. The plant tolerates pruning well and forms new branches at the interfaces. When making cuts, make sure that you do not cut back into the old wood.

Before moving the shrub to its winter quarters, we recommend shortening long shoots. This prevents space problems and the shrub needs a little less energy. If you want to cultivate your zigzag bush as a bonsai, shape and design cuts are necessary.

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Water the zigzag bush

The houseplant likes a constantly fresh substrate. When watering, make sure that no waterlogging forms. Before watering, the upper layer of soil should be dry. The root ball must not dry out. Reduce the amount of water in winter, because the shrub needs less water during hibernation.

Fertilize the zigzag bush properly

Adult plants enjoy regular fertilization during the growth phase between spring and autumn, although they should wait for the flowering period. The plant will often shed its flowers if it is supplied with nutrients during this time. Give your plant a flower fertilizer every two weeks (€ 13.27 on Amazon *) after the flowers have wilted. In autumn, reduce the nutrient supply so that the fresh branches lignify and no new shoots are formed. Young plants should not be fertilized in the first year.

How do I transplant properly?

Young plants are repotted every two to three years. The ideal time for this maintenance measure is spring, after the flowers have withered. Older specimens are placed in a larger planter as needed as soon as the roots grow out of the drainage hole or the substrate is heavily rooted. The new planter should be about two fingers larger than the old one.

If you cultivate your zigzag shrub as a bonsai, you should repot the shrub annually. With this measure, the roots are shortened so that a balance is created between the crown and the root ball. Cutting off the roots ensures that the shrubs stay small.


Corokia cotoneaster proves to be a robust shrub that is very rarely affected by diseases and pests. Damage can often be traced back to maintenance errors or unfavorable site conditions.


Zigzag shrubs are only partially hardy. They can survive sub-zero temperatures just below zero. In most cases, the plants are damaged. You should therefore overwinter your shrub indoors.

Corokia cotoneaster needs a cool wintering quarters with temperatures between five and ten degrees Celsius. This cold period is important so that the shrub falls into a dormant state. The metabolism is reduced in this phase. Therefore, zigzag bushes require little water and no fertilizer in winter.

If the plants are overwintered under bright and warm conditions, there is no winter dormancy. This means that there will be no flowering in the next year.

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Loses leaves

The shrubs shed their leaves in autumn as they prepare for the upcoming winter dormancy. If your zigzag shrub suddenly loses a lot of leaves during the growth phase, you should check care measures and site conditions.

This can lead to leaf loss:

  • direct sunlight
  • too dark location
  • Waterlogging
  • too high ambient temperatures

In places that are too hot, the plants' need for water increases enormously. If the shrubs cannot maintain their fluid balance, they shed their leaves. A high water loss can occur both in direct sunlight and in rooms that are too warm. Place the bucket on the balcony or terrace in summer and make sure it is in a partially shaded position. The temperature should be around 15 degrees Celsius during the growing season.

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Zigzag does not bloom

If the zigzag bush does not develop flowers, it may be because the winter is too warm. The plants need a cool location during the winter months, otherwise they will not go into hibernation. It is necessary for the flowers to open next spring.

An unsuitable location can also lead to a lack of flowers. Make sure that the zigzag shrub gets a partially shaded location and check the care.


In order to create unusual arrangements in the tub, you should use at least three different plants with clearly distinguishable color nuances or interesting growth forms. Contrasts and variability in shape ensure that the design appears interesting. The zigzag shrub goes perfectly with silver leaf (Senecio bicolor) and Texas grass (Calocephalus brownii).


  • Corokia buddleoides: Tree-shaped growth. Lush green leaves, velvety hairy underneath. Yellow flowers.
  • Corokia x vircata: Cross between Corokia cotoneaster and Corokia buddleoides. Bark black. Small leaves that are reminiscent of the foliage of Corokia buddleoides.
  • Maori (R) Bonsai Green : compact growth, between 40 and 60 centimeters high.
  • Maori (R) Silver : branches in silver color. Frost hardy to -12 degrees Celsius.

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