How to Grow and Care for Indian Hawthorn

Indian hawthorn is a slow-growing shrub that thrives in sunny locations. One of the amazing things about this plant is that it is very easy to care for and it maintains its round shape naturally so there is no need for pruning. It is known for its evergreen leaves, clusters of pink or white flowers, and dense shrub features. It becomes a focal point from late fall to late spring when it’s fragrant pink and white flowers add colors to the dreary winter gardens. After flowers expire, plants display dark small blueberries that attract wildlife. The average size of mature plants is 5 x 6 ft. They can either grow individually or in groups. You can plant Indian hawthorn as an informal hedge.

Indian hawthorn is generally known as haphiolepis indica which is the most popular member of the haphiolepis genus. This plant and its relatives are native to southeastern Asia and subtropical regions of the east.  Most of the cultivars can grow to about 3 to 6 feet tall and about the same in width. Some grow larger than this that looks like a small tree.

These plants fall in the Maleae ribe of the Rosaceae family and are the same as quince, pears, serviceberry, and mountain ash. The closest relative is loquat. The Indian hawthorn is planted in USDA zones 7 to 11. Their varieties are also grown which usually reach the size of 2 to 5 feet in both width and height.

These plants are famous for their attractive flowers and mounded form. The beautiful pink and white flowers grow in clusters in the seasons of late spring to summer. In the late summer, the attractive bluish berries appear that are very attractive to wildlife. These berries persist through the winter.  The leathery dark green leaves turn purplish in the winter.

The Indian hawthorns are mostly used as shrubs while some large cultivars are also used for hedges and mass planting. These plants are sensitive to the cold weather and should be protected if grown in cold areas. The plants need full sun but they can be kept in partial shade as well. The newly planted Indian hawthorn prefers moist soil but the established shrubs will be drought-tolerant.

Before planting Indian hawthorn, you should select a place where the sun is full. they can also tolerate partial sun where the soil is well-drained. You should remove all the grass and other weeds from the soil before you plant the Indian hawthorn in it. They will look very nice in your garden. Their vibrant leaf colors, bluish berries, and white and pink flowers will give new colors to your garden.

Different Types of Indian Hawthorn:

The scientific name of Indian hawthorn is Rhaphiolepis umbellata which survives in mild climates and has white flowers. Another variant of Indian hawthorn is Rhaphiolepis indica that can also tolerate frost and have white or pink flowers. Some hybrids of Indian hawthorn are also produced.

Rhaphiolepis Umbellata (Snow White):

This is a dwarf type of Indian hawthorn with a spreading habit. It produces pure white flowers in the seasons of spring and early summer. They can get 3 feet high and 4 feet wide. Its dark green foliage has good resistance to leaf spot.

Rhaphiolepis indica (Little Pinkie):

Little Pinkie produces profuse fragrant rose-pink flowers and leathery leaves. Little Pinkie looks like a small shrub but it can grow from 4 to 6 feet tall and usually as wide. This type has grey-green foliage while it turns bronze in fall. The color of its berries is generally dark blue. It may repeat bloom in the fall. Its spring flowers are pink in color.

Rhaphiolepis x ‘Montic’ (Majesty  Beauty):

This is the very rare variety of Indian hawthorn. These plants are very large in size. They can grow from 15 to 25 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide. Their flowers are pear-pink and they bloom in the spring. 

Georgia Petite: The next one on our list is Georgia petite.  It produces white flowers and its berries are deep blue to purple. These plants can grow to 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 feet.

Indian Princess:  This one produces both white and pink flowers. It is 4 feet high and has wide flowers. The color of its foliage is bright green and its berries are usually blue-purple.

Growing Conditions and Requirements

Water Requirements:

Provide enough water to the plant so that the soil around the plant can stay moist. There is a chance that you need to add more soil after watering as it may remove air pockets and also cause some settling. Make sure that you are providing enough water so that the soil remains evenly moist. This is very important for the establishment of plants. You can check the establishment if there are signs of growth. Once the plants are well established, water them every 5 to 10 days in summer. Water should be enough to moisten the root zone around the plant. Proper watering can help the plant in growing and flowering. However, Indian hawthorn can survive without frequent watering as they are drought tolerant. Keep in mind that applying water directly to the soil around the plant can prevent root rot and leaf spot diseases.

Until your Indian hawthorn establishes, you should provide regular watering. After it has formed a strong root system, the plant can survive without regular watering. Keep in mind to always water the plant at the soil level to avoid damaging the leaves. The Indian hawthorn is susceptible to leaf spot that is a disease that exists on damp foliage and moist conditions.

Light Requirements:

Indian hawthorns are the plants that live in full sun but can also tolerate mild shading preferably in the afternoon. We recommend you not transplant Indian hawthorn as they may react badly if you instantly fig them up and move them to another place. Plan if you intend to do so. Make sure they are planted in the sunniest place in your garden. If the plant cannot get enough light it may become stretched. Thus it loses its compact form.

We recommend you to keep your plant in a container as it is very easy to move the container to any place you want. So you can take them to an area with enough light. These plants work very well as container plants.

Temperature Requirements:

The Indian hawthorns are the plants that can survive in mild climates. They cannot tolerate deep freezes of winter. The minimum temperature that it can tolerate is 5 Fahrenheit but if the temperature gets lower than this, the plant will not survive. It can tolerate high temperatures as close to 90 Fahrenheit  and they grow very well in southern climates. 

Flowering:

Generally, the flowers of Indian hawthorn grow in the form of clusters of at least three inches across. Each bloom can grow to about an inch. In the late spring, usually, the white-colored flowers will be produced. Some plants also produce pink blooms. In the late summer, it produces deep purple or blue-black berries. These barriers are very attractive to wildlife.

Pruning:

These plants generally do not need pruning and they form their mound shapes naturally. However, if you want you can prune them into the shape of your desire like a ball or in a hedgerow with other Indian hawthorns. If you wish to do pruning, you should do it after the summer flowers are spent. So that any of the growth is not removed on which next year’s blooms will be produced.

Soil Requirements:

These plants prefer moist, well-drained soil. Use a shovel and a garden hoe to loosen the soil. To increase drainage and improve soil structure, work in organic soil amendments like compost, sand, manure, sphagnum peat, and leaf mold. Select a space that has enough space to accommodate a mature Indian hawthorn. Make sure that the place is in full sun where you can provide partial shade.

The next step is to dig a hole that has the same depth and two to three times the diameter as the original planting container. If there is no planting container you can go for cutting in summer. The cut end should be dipped in the rooting hormone which can be then planted in a container that has a well-draining potting mix. Keep the soil evenly moist before you plant in spring. Make sure the pot is in full sun.

After planting Indian hawthorn in the soil, it is also necessary to spread mulch around the plant. Spread about 2-3 inches of mulch that can retain moisture in the soil and also insulate roots. Do not push the mulch directly against the plant stem as it can lead to plant rot and encourages infestation.

Common Diseases and Pests Control:

Deer are amongst the common pests of Indian hawthorn. Do not plant it in the garden if you have a deer. Other common pests of this plant are aphids, scale, black vine weevil, thrips, and rose beetles. You can use a neem oil spray to discourage these pests. If there is a pest problem, you should instantly treat it to avoid a heavy infestation occurring. The first thing that you need to do is to identify your plant’s pest before treating it as there are different treatments for different pests.

The most common disease that occurs in Indian hawthorn is the leaf spot. It can typically happen during a plant’s growth period. It is caused by a fungus and due to rapid moist conditions. One way to identify this condition is to see red spots in foliage which sometimes combine to form larger blotches. Leaf spot is a dangerous disease for this plant. In some cases, it can cause heavy leaf loss and then lead to plant death. You can prevent it by watering at soil level around the plant to avoid damp foliage.

Fertilizer Requirements:

Indian Hawthorn tree flowers during spring, so it needs a complete fertilizer.  The fertilizer can be a mixture of a nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium blend of 16-4-8, 12-6-6, or 12-4-8. You should add a complete fertilizer to the water supply about once in a month. Or you can apply finished compost to the soil around the plants. Regular fertilization is not necessary, but you can do it if you wish to. A complete fertilizer is vital to enhance vigor before new growth.

How to fertilize?

  • Before applying fertilizer, water the soil regularly for about 2 to 3 weeks to make sure the soil is moist, and the roots are not drought-stressed. Water to a depth of about eight to ten inches if the Indian Hawthorn is small and young.  Water to a depth of 2 feet for a large and well-established shrub.
  • Apply half a cup of fertilizer for small and young shrub while applying a full cup of fertilizer for the large and well-established shrub.
  • Cast the grains of fertilizer on the surface of soil that is surrounding the shrub. Make sure the fertilizer grains are at least 6 inches away from the trunk of the shrub to prevent the burning of root from over-fertilization.
  • The last step is to water the fertilizer deeply with soil to make sure nutrients are distributed equally.

Propagation:

You can propagate Indian hawthorns from stem cutting. The best time to do this is autumn during the plant’s dormant period. The best way for cutting the plant is to water it the previous evening and then cut it the next morning. This ensures successful propagation. The selection of items is very important. Select a stem that is a quarter-inch in diameter and have soft leafy growth at the tip. The cutting should be between 6-8 inches long with all the lower leaves removed.

Once you are done with cutting, the next task is to prepare a pot filled with some moist growing medium like compost or peat. Next, create a hole in the soil that can be 3-4 inches deep. Dip the raw end of that cutting in rooting hormone before you insert it into the soil. After dipping, place the soil around the cutting to secure it. Next, place it in a warm shaded spot.

About 4 to 6 weeks later, you will see your cutting rooted. You can confirm this by gently pulling the stem to see if it resists. Once your cutting has rooted, you should wait for some more weeks to let the roots develop further. After a few weeks, your cutting will be ready to transplant. Seek for a pot that is at least 1 or 2 inches wider where your plant can thrive in light shade during summer. In the following autumn, you can plant it in its permanent place either in a container pot or directly into the ground. When the next spring comes, it should be in full sun.

FAQS:

1. Why is my Indian hawthorn plant dying?

One of the reasons for your plant dying is fire blight that is caused in rainy or humid conditions. When temperature ranges from 75 to 85 degrees F, these conditions occur. The results of fire blight are the wilted leaves, flowers, and oozing lesions which are called cankers.

2. Why does my hawthorn not flowering?

For flowering, full sun and almost four hours of bright light are necessary. Other factors that prevent flowering are pruning during fall or winter. Because it starts to develop its flower buds towards the end of the previous growing season. Excess nitrogen fertilizer can also prevent flowering. 

3. How can I prune my Indian hawthorn?

You can remove one branch or you can make a heading cut that is low enough that the stems won’t rub. It is very important to know the right time for pruning Indian hawthorn because it may lose its next season flowers. The plant starts to develop its flower buds towards the end of the previous growing season.

4. Is Indian Hawthorn poisonous to dogs?

These plans are not poisonous for dogs. The berries of Indian hawthorn are very safe for dogs and are also used in herbal medicine as a tonic for the heart. It can help with several heart diseases.

5. Why is my Hawthorn losing its leaves?

The most common reason for lead falling is a fungal disease known as leaf spot. It can typically happen during a plant’s growth period. It is caused by a fungus and due to rapid moist conditions. The heavily infected leaves start to fall from the plants.

6. How often should I water my Indian hawthorn?

You should regularly water a newly planted Indian hawthorn. It requires uniform moist soil. When the plant is well established, the plant can survive without regular watering. You can water the mature plant every 5 to 10 days during the summer. Keep in mind to always water the plant at the soil level to avoid damaging the leaves.

7. How tall can an Indian hawthorn get?

The average height of Indian hawthorn is 2.4 m. It produces clusters of white or pink flowers in the spring and summer season. Then it is followed by deep purple or blue-black berries. These barriers are attracted to wildlife.