Spring sonata indian hawthorn

Indian Hawthorn Pruning: How And When To Cut Indian Hawthorn Plants

One of the features that make Indian hawthorn plants so easy to grow is that they rarely need pruning. The shrubs have a shape and growth habit that stays neat and compact without much effort on the gardener’s part. Pruning Indian hawthorns is usually limited to removing diseased and damaged parts of the shrub as problems occur, but you might also find it helpful to make an occasional heading or thinning cut. Read on to find out how to prune an Indian hawthorn.

Indian Hawthorn Pruning

When an Indian hawthorn branch is broken, it’s best to take care of the problem right away by cutting off the stem below the break. A clean cut heals quickly and is less likely to develop disease problems than a ragged break. If you are cutting near the branch tip, any stub of stem between the cut and the nearest bud will eventually die, so make the cut about one-quarter of an inch above a bud. Choose the bud carefully. After you remove the end of a stem, any new growth will come from the bud, and it will grow in the direction the bud is facing. This type of pruning is called heading.

Diseased and dead stems should be removed immediately to help prevent the spread of the disease. Make the cuts several inches below the affected area. If the wood in the cut looks discolored, you need to cut a little further down. Don’t hesitate to remove the entire stem if it looks unhealthy.

Sterilize your pruners between cuts if you suspect a disease. Dip the pruners in rubbing alcohol or a household disinfectant and wipe them with a clean cloth. Make sure you wipe them completely dry before putting them away.

When you prune the shrub, you should also look for branches that cross and rub against each other. Constant rubbing causes wounds that provide an entry point for disease organisms and insects. Remove one of the branches, or make a heading cut low enough that the stems won’t rub.

It is important to know when to cut Indian hawthorn to avoid losing next year’s flowers. The plant starts forming next year’s flower buds soon after the flowers fade, and if you wait too long you’ll remove the buds as you prune. The best time to prune is immediately after the flowers fade, before new buds begin to form.

Severly Prunning Indian Hawthorn Bushes

Answer #1 · Maple Tree’s Answer · Hi Jeanne-Yes, you can cut back or heavily prune the Indian Hawthorn. This would be called a rejuvenation pruning and is normally done in late winter or early spring before any new growth appears. Pruning to shape is normally done after flowering but if you don’t care about the flowering this year you can do a rejuvenation pruning now. If you live in a warm climate your shrubs may have already bloomed as mine have. I live in a private community that keeps their Indian Hawthorn hedges pruned to shape every couple of months. This creates hedges that are most likely like yours that have very little top and side growth. When pruned they look horrible for awhile until the bare areas fill in again. Four years ago I rejuvenated the Indian Hawthorns at my home by cutting them back to approximately 14 inches of the ground. This also gave me a chance to cut out any dead stems and to thin out some of the older larger stems which helped to open up the plants for better air circulation. If you don’t want your hedge to look poorly with all the hedge being cut down at the same time you can cut down 1/3 of the long stems each year leaving the others to keep the hedge looking fairly nice. After three years the hedge will have been reduced in size and full with new growth throughout the entire plant. Wanting to cut back your plants by 1/2 their height will work out fine as there will most likely be some lateral branches left. If you cut back closer to the ground it is best to pinch off the ends of the new growth at times to produce more lateral branching helping to make the plants fuller. After any heavy pruning I fertilize my plants with a slow release shrub and tree fertilizer to help with their recovery. A slow release fertilizer will give them the nutrients they need throughout this years growing season without forcing new growth too quickly. If you are going to heavily prune your shrubs this year I wouldn’t wait any longer. Pruning too late in summer will promote new growth that has not had time to harden off. This new tender growth can easily be damaged by freezing temperatures.
The spotting on the leaves may be Entomosporium leaf spot. This is a common fungal disease of the Indian Hawthorn. It is most often seen at this time of the year after frequent periods of rain. Shrubs that have grown together allowing for little air circulation throughout the plants are more susceptible as moisture on the leaves can’t dry quickly during the day. Overhead watering from sprinklers shouldn’t be done as this only adds moisture throughout the plants. Watering at the base of the hedge should always be done when possible. If the plants aren’t heavily infected your pruning back of the plant may help rid most of the plant of this disease. Products such as Bonide Fung-onil concentrate, Feri-Lome Broad Spectrum fungicide, Hi-Yield Vegetable, Flower, fruit & Ornamental Fungicide Concentrate, and others can be used to treat this fungal disease. Your local quality nursery or garden center will be able to help you with a proper fungicide to use. After pruning be sure to rake up and dispose of any leaves that have fallen on the ground. Do not add these to a compost pile. Splashing water from rain and sprinklers along with wind can spread this fungal disease.
Please ask if you have any other questions.

Indian Hawthorn

Indian hawthorn (Raphiolepis species) used as an evergreen foundation planting.
Photo by Karen Russ, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Indian hawthorns (Rhaphiolepis species and hybrids) are mostly low-growing, evergreen, flowering shrubs. With a dense mounded growth habit, they are ideal low-maintenance plants for use in small gardens and foundation plantings.

Mature Height/Spread

Most cultivars grow between 3 and 6 feet tall and about the same in width. A few are large shrubs that can be trained to a small tree form.

Ornamental Features

Indian hawthorns are grown for their attractively neat, mounded form and clusters of flowers. The fragrant, pink or white crabapple-like flowers open in clusters above the foliage in mid-April to May. Bluish-black berries appear in late summer and persist through the winter. The leathery, dark evergreen leaves are rounded, about 2 to 3 inches long, turning purplish in winter.

Indian hawthorn (Raphiolepis species) produces abundant purple-black fruit during the summer.
Photo by Karen Russ, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Landscape Use

The compact cultivars of Indian hawthorn are suitable for use as foundation shrubs, while larger cultivars may be used for hedges, mass plantings or screening.

Indian hawthorns are sensitive to cold damage and should be sited in protected areas if grown in the upper part of South Carolina.

Plants prefer sun, although they will grow in partial shade. Indian hawthorn prefers moist, well-drained soil, but established shrubs will tolerate drought. It is tolerant of salt spray and sandy soils and is a good choice for coastal areas.

Pruning is rarely necessary. If pruning is needed it should be done just after bloom.


Entomosporium leaf spot, caused by the fungus Entomosporium mespili, is the most common disease of Indian hawthorn. It is most damaging following periods of frequent rainfall in the spring and fall.

Entomosporium leaf spot on Indian hawthorn (Raphiolepis species).
Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension

The first symptoms are tiny, round, red spots on both the upper and lower sides of young leaves.

These expand and on heavily diseased leaves, merge, forming large, irregular blotches. Severe infections may result in early leaf drop.

Slow the spread of disease by properly spacing plants to improve air movement. Water shrubs with drip irrigation rather than overhead sprinklers. If sprinklers are used, only water established plants once per week as needed during the growing season and apply one inch of irrigation water each time. Collect and discard fallen diseased leaves during winter, and then mulch the shrubs.

Diseased shrubs may be sprayed with Daconil (chlorothalonil) beginning when new leaves first appear in spring until early June. Spray every ten days during rainy spring weather, or every two weeks during dry spring weather. Addition sprays may be needed in the fall. Follow label direction for rates and safety. See Table 1 for examples of brands and specific products.

Winter injury has become more common, and was quite severe during the winter of 2014-2015, where many Indian hawthorns in South Carolina were

Severe defoliation may occur during summer following a heavy infection with Entomosporium leaf spot on Indian hawthorn (Raphiolepis species).
Photo by Joey Williamson, ©2015 HGIC, Clemson Extension

killed. Plants weakened by stresses from improper fertilization and irrigation, exposure to lawn weed killers, and foliar disease may be more apt to be damaged by cold weather. Test the soil in landscape beds for proper fertilization.

This same disease also affects red tip photinia and pears (such as Bradford pear), but may also be found on pyracantha, quince and loquat. For this reason, red tip photinia is rarely still found for sale.

The best way to prevent leaf spot on Indian hawthorn is to plant selected resistant cultivars (see below), grow them in a full sun site, and use drip irrigation.


  • ‘Blueberry Muffin’ is very cold hardy with good root rot and foliage disease resistance. It has white flowers, and deep blue fruit. The leaves turn deep purple in winter if grown in full sun. R. umbellata.
  • ‘Clara’ is white flowered, with reddish new growth that matures to dark green. It grows 3 to 4 feet tall. It is moderately resistant to leaf spot. R. indica.
  • ‘Eleanor Tabor™’ (‘Conor’ PP9398) is a pink-flowered cultivar that has very good leaf spot resistance, unless planted in less than 6 hours of sun. Grows to 3 to 5 feet tall. R. indica.
  • ‘Eskimo’ is cold tolerant to 5 °F, and exhibits very high resistance to leaf spot. ‘Eskimo’ grows up to 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide with white flowers. R. x delacourii.
  • ‘Georgia Charm’ (PP9982) bears white blossoms and grows to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It has good resistance to leaf spot and is cold hardy to 5 °F.
  • ‘Georgia Petite’ (PP9983) bears blooms of light pink and white and grows to 2½ feet tall and 3 feet wide. It has good resistance to leaf spot and is cold hardy to 5 °F. This is a hybrid R. x delacourii.
  • Gulf Green™ (‘Minor’) grows 3 to 4 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide with white flowers.

R. umbellata

  • Indian Princess® (‘Monto’ PP5862) grows in a compact, mounded form with pink flowers that fade to white. This cultivar is one of the most resistant to leaf spot. R. indica.
  • Majestic Beauty® (‘Montic’ PP3349) grows to 8 to 10 feet tall or more by 5 to 10 feet wide with fragrant light pink flowers. It can be trained as a small tree. The large leaves have good resistance to leaf spot.
  • Olivia™ (‘Conia’ PP9399) is one of the most disease resistant Indian hawthorns. It grows to 4 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide with white flowers.
  • Rosalinda® (‘Conda’ PP9056) is typically grown as a tree form, and reaches 10 to 12 feet tall by 8 to 10 feet wide. R. indica.
  • ‘Snow White’ is a dwarf form with a spreading habit to 3 to 4 feet tall by 4 to 6 feet wide. The flowers are pure white, and the leaves are light green. It has good leaf spot resistance. R. indica.
  • Spring Sonata™ (‘Wilcor’ PP17972) grows to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide with white flowers. Bloom time is about 2 weeks later than other Indian hawthorns. R. indica.

These cultivars are highly susceptible to leaf spot:

  • ‘Enchantress’ also known as ‘Pinkie’
  • ‘Fascination’
  • ‘Harbinger of Spring’
  • ‘Heather’
  • ‘Spring Rapture’
  • ‘Springtime’
  • ‘White Enchantress

Table 1. Fungicides for the Control of Entomosporium Leaf Spot on Indian Hawthorn.

Active ingredients Examples of Brand Names & Products
Chlorothalonil Bonide Fung-onil Concentrate
Ferti-lome Broad Spectrum Landscape & Garden Fungicide Concentrate
GardenTech Daconil Fungicide Concentrate
Hi-Yield Vegetable, Flower, Fruit & Ornamental Fungicide Concentrate
Ortho MAX Garden Disease Control Concentrate
Southern Ag Liquid Ornamental & Vegetable Fungicide Concentrate
Tiger Brand Daconil Concentrate
Myclobutanil Spectracide Immunox Multi-purpose Fungicide Concentrate
Ferti-lome F-Stop Lawn & Garden Fungicide Concentrate
Monterey Fungi-max
Propiconazole Ferti-lome Liquid Systemic Fungicide II Concentrate
Banner Maxx Fungicide
Bonide Infuse Concentrate
Bonide Fung-onil Lawn & Garden Disease Control RTS1
Martin’s Honor Guard PPZ
1RTS = Ready to Spray (hose-end spray bottle)

When & How to Prune Indian Hawthorn Shrubs?

midland hawthorn image by jakezc from Fotolia.com

Indian hawthorn (Raphiolepis indica), a native of Southern China, is an evergreen flowering shrub in the rose family. It grows from 4 to 5 feet high. It has a 4-foot spread in a mounded shape. In the spring the Indian hawthorn blooms in white to dark pink flowers that make way for dark berries in the fall. Hardy to USDA zones 7 to 10, the Indian hawthorn requires little care. Pruning is rarely necessary. Should you need to do some light pruning, spring is the ideal time.

Prune when you want to improve your plant’s form. Cut back any stray shoots that extend beyond the Indian hawthorn so that they are even with the plant.

You need to prune to remove any diseased or damaged stems, according to the University of Florida. Cut them back to the branch from which they originate.

Remove all pruning debris from the planting bed and rake the soil to the dripline. This is the tips of the longest branches.

Fertilize after pruning with a fertilizer for acid-loving plants, such as azalea food. Apply the fertilizer according to package directions. Water the plant after fertilizing.

Indian Hawthorne

Raphiolepis indica

Rugged little Indian hawthorne is a breeze of a shrub – no green thumb required – that makes it a staple for South Florida landscaping.

A very low maintenance plant, this small shrub is the perfect plant for the armchair gardener.

It goes almost anywhere – sun to partial shade – and puts up with cold weather and dry conditions.

Most of the year, hawthorne is a handsome plant that grows in a full, mounded form…but in spring it’s decorated with small white flowers, followed by little blue-black berries that attract birds.
These plants can be used in a wide variety of ways, from foundation plants to bordering a walkway to massed plantings under trees where grass won’t grow.

Plant specs

This small evergreen shrub grows slowly to about 2-1/2 feet tall by 3 feet wide.

It’s cold hardy, salt-tolerant, and moderately drought-tolerant once established.

In cooler months, you’ll notice an occasional bright red or orange leaf. Spring flowers are brief but very showy.

Plant care

Add top soil or organic peat humus to the hole when you plant. Additionally you can combine with composted cow manure to enrich the soil.

Hawthornes can take sun to part shade. Water regularly with time for the plant to dry out between waterings.

Because it grows slowly, you’ll only need to do a minor light pruning to shape the plant, since it grows in a naturally beautiful mound.

Fertilize 3 times a year – once each in spring, summer and autumn – with a good granular fertilizer.

Plant spacing

Plant 2 feet apart. Come out from the house about 2 feet.

Hawthornes will grow in a container, and do well in mobile home planter boxes with good drainage.

Landscape uses for Indian hawthorne

  • foundation planting
  • surrounding palms or trees
  • along a deck, patio, porch
  • lining a fence or carport
  • bordering walks and drives
  • as a low hedge or fronting medium-height hedges
  • under low windows
  • around a birdbath or feeder
  • accent for a small mixed bed

A.K.A. (also known as): India hawthorne


COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Variegated arboricola, blackberry iris, Knock Out rose, azalea, blueberry flax lily, loropetalum ‘Plum’, Aztec grass, gold mound, pentas, and dwarf powderpuff.

Other shrubs you might like: Schillings (Dwarf Yaupon) Holly, Japanese Boxwood

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Shrubs with Style

They come in many shapes and sizes–tall, small, wide, compact, dense, arching. They can be evergreen or deciduous, flowering or berry-bearing, fragrant or with variegated foliage–the choices are many and amazing.

With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which ones to use. But, with a little research and imagination, shrubs can be the basis of a beautiful and sustainable landscape.

A great first step in choosing shrubs is to think about the color scheme of your landscape area.

If you want a calm or lush green landscape, evergreens such ascleyera, holly, mahonia and yew may be great choices.

These can be used in a mass planting (monoculture) of one plant variety or mixed and matched together to add texture and interest to a planting. If you want a wall of color, such as pink or red, in the landscape, choose flowering shrubs from the color palette you desire.

Want more of a mix of colors?

One way to achieve this is to use shrubs with colorful or variegated foliage, such as nandinas, loropetalum, pieris japonica (Japanese Andromeda), pittosporumand abelia. Many of these change color as the seasons progress, thus providing year-round interest to the landscape.

And, of course, there are the flowering shrubs…

If selected thoughtfully, these can provide flowers almost every month of the year by using such plants as a winter-blooming camellia; spring-blooming rhododendron, abelia or Indian hawthorne; summer-blooming gardenia, weigela or oleander; then back to a fall-blooming camellia. As these plants bloom in succession, they will provide something of interest regardless of the time of year.

Another option for long-term blooming is to use plants such as ‘Big Daddy’ Hydrangea, that blooms summer through fall. For an even longer blooming season plant Jubilation™ Gardenia, which blooms from spring through the summer and into the fall.

Intermingling non-blooming and flowering shrubs together also makes for a lively, interesting landscape.
Plus, many shrubs are great backdrops for plantings of flowering annuals and perennials, herbs and even vegetable beds.

Keep in mind that too much mixing and matching can result in a cluttered or chaotic landscape so don’t go too crazy unless you want to make a fun and unruly statement in your yard. Also remember to choose and position plants based on size (tall plants in the back of a landscape scene with medium, then small plants toward the front) and growth habits (don’t plant a big spreading shrub so close to other plants that it overpowers its landscape companions).

By taking a little time to study the characteristics and choices of plants that you like, you can tap into the diversity of shrubs for a beautiful and long-lasting landscape.

Planting Indian Hawthorn: How To Care For Indian Hawthorn Shrubs

Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepsis indica) is a small, slow-growing shrub perfect for sunny locations. It’s easy to care for because it keeps a neat, rounded shape naturally, without the need for pruning. The shrub looks great year round and becomes a focal point in spring when large, loose clusters of fragrant, pink or white flowers bloom. The flowers are followed by small blue berries that attract wildlife. Read on to find out how to grow Indian hawthorn.

How to Grow Indian Hawthorn

Indian hawthorn is an evergreen, so the dark green, leathery foliage remains on the branches all year, taking on a purplish color in winter. The shrub survives winters in mild climates and is rated for USDA plant hardiness zones 8 through 11.

You’ll find many uses for Indian hawthorn plants. Planted close together, they form a dense hedge. You can also use rows of Indian hawthorn as barriers or dividers between sections of the garden. The plants tolerate salt spray and salty soil, so they are ideal for seaside planting. Indian hawthorn plants grow well in containers, so you can use them on patios, decks and porches too.

Indian hawthorn care begins with planting the shrub in a location where it can thrive. It grows best in full sun but will tolerate afternoon shade as well. Planting Indian hawthorn where it receives too much shade causes the shrub to lose its neat, compact growth habit.

It isn’t picky about the soil, but it’s a good idea to work in some compost before planting if the soil is heavy clay or sand. The various species and cultivars grow between 3 and 6 feet wide and spread a little further than their height, so space them accordingly.

Care for Indian Hawthorn Shrubs

Water newly planted Indian hawthorn shrubs regularly to keep the soil moist until they are well-established and begin putting on new foliage. Once established, Indian hawthorn tolerates moderate drought.

Fertilize the shrub for the first time in spring of the year after planting, and every spring and fall thereafter. Feed the shrub lightly with a general purpose fertilizer.

Indian hawthorn almost never needs pruning. You may need to prune lightly to remove dead and damaged branches, and you can do this type of pruning any time of year. If the shrub needs additional pruning, do so immediately after the flowers fade.

Tom Glasgow: Indian hawthorns rise in popularity but attract deer

Indian hawthorns (Rhaphiolepis species and hybrids) are important low-growing, flowering shrubs for Eastern N.C. landscapes. Depending on cultivar, these plants may mature at anywhere between 2-3 feet to over 10 feet in height, with about equal spread. Flowers may be white or pink, and generally occur in mid-spring.

Indian hawthorns (Rhaphiolepis species and hybrids) are important low-growing, flowering shrubs for Eastern N.C. landscapes. Depending on cultivar, these plants may mature at anywhere between 2-3 feet to over 10 feet in height, with about equal spread. Flowers may be white or pink, and generally occur in mid-spring.

As the use and popularity of these shrubs trend upwards, two potential problems need to be kept in mind by home gardeners and professional landscapers. First, Indian hawthorns are a favorite target of deer browsing, and if this is a problem on your property or in your neighborhood, you might want to consider alternative shrubs. (Contact our office for information on landscape plants that are less likely to be damaged by deer.)

A second problem, and one that seems to be receiving increased attention in recent years, is susceptibility to a serious leaf spot caused by the fungus Entomosporium mespili. For those of you who remember the glory days of “red tips” (Photinia x fraseri) in the southeastern U.S., and wonder why we rarely see them in garden centers anymore, Entomosporium leaf spot is the culprit.

As with red tips, the amount of spraying needed to suppress leaf spot on Indian hawthorn is beyond what’s practical for most home gardeners, in particular since the spray program would need to be repeated year after year, for the life of the shrubs. Control or reduction of this disease begins with careful cultivar selection; plant Indian hawthorn cultivars that are known to have good to excellent leaf spot resistance, and avoid cultivars that are considered susceptible or highly susceptible.

For example, according to an information note from Clemson University, ‘Dwarf Yedda’ (also known as ‘Minor’), ‘Eskimo’, and ‘Indian Princess’ are among the most resistant cultivars. Highly susceptible cultivars include ‘Enchantress’ (also known as ‘Pinkie’), ‘Fascination,’ ‘Harbinger of Spring,’ ‘Heather,’ ‘Spring Rapture,’ ‘Springtime’ and ‘White Enchantress’.

In addition to cultivar selection, you can reduce Indian hawthorn leaf spot by providing plenty of space in between plants, for better air circulation; avoiding landscape sites that have generally poor air movement; and using drip or soaker hose irrigation rather than overhead irrigation, which would tend to spread the pathogen by water splashing from leaf to leaf.

For additional information on Indian hawthorns and managing Entomosporium leaf spot, review the Clemson note at www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/landscape/shrubs/hgic1078.html.

Examples of foundation or edging plants with no susceptibility to Entomosporium leafspot — and very low frequency of deer damage — include rosemary, dwarf yaupon holly, abelia and ‘Carissa’ holly.

Christmas tree purchases will be a high priority for many Craven County residents throughout the next week or so. When setting up a cut tree inside the home, remember to make a fresh cut of about one-half inch before placing the tree in the stand. Use a stand that will hold a gallon or more of water, as your tree can take up a gallon of water in the first 24 hours, and a quart or so a day afterwards. Fresh water is the best preservative, and additives to the water are not needed.

Tom Glasgow is the Craven County Extension director. Contact him at [email protected]

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