In The Garden Now …. The Halloween Ghost Plant

Friday, October 30, 2015

Corokia, Wire-Netting Bush

Text and photos by Victoria Gilleland

What’s this? There seems to be something tangled up in one of my favorite plants …. Is it? Could it be? Yes! It’s The Halloween Witch perched in my favorite Corokia shrub.

Corokia is the one plant that always gets a reaction when visitors discover it in the garden. People either love it because it’s so bizarre looking with its tortured black branches or hate it because they think it looks like it’s dead or dying. I love this twisted little shrub!

In the garden

This odd fellow looks as if it was designed specifically for the Halloween season. Known as The Ghost Plant in its native New Zealand its black zig-zagging branches stand out against flickering green and grey leaves when blown by the wind. Tiny yellow star shaped scented flowers appear on skeletal black branches before fresh grey green paddle shaped leaves unfold in spring. Red berries follow the flowers although berries have been sparse in my NW garden. On a snowy winter day the contorted structure of this plant stands out against the snow.

In a pot in the garden

Because corokia requires good drainage it’s the perfect ‘container plant.’ Grown in heavy clay soil it’s likely to die … I’ve been growing one Corokia shrub in a series of ever larger pots for over 20 years. It’s been very happy with minimal attention as it migrated from place to place in my garden. For at least ten years the plant greeted visitors on my north side front porch. It moved to a sheltered patio a few years ago.

Close up
Even after all these years my potted corokia is less than seven feet tall. I’ve only nipped a branch here and there if it’s gotten out of hand. If space is tight Corokia can be pruned quite heavily to keep it more compact

Dare to be different … add a bit of the weird and wonderful to your garden. There’s really nothing tricky about growing this plant. Treat yourself to a bootiful Corokia shrub now and enjoy its unique presence throughout the year!

(Botanical Name: Cotoneaster corokia)

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 20 years.


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