Indian hawthorns (Rhaphiolepis species and hybrids) are low-growing, evergreen, flowering shrubs. They are ideal low-maintenance plants that are good for using in small gardens and as foundation plantings.
Most cultivars of Indian hawthorns grow between 3 and 6 feet tall and wide. A few cultivars are large shrubs and can be trained to a small tree form. Indian hawthorns have fragrant, white or pink crabapple-like flowers that open in clusters above the foliage in mid-April to May. The berries are a bluish-black color that appear in late summer and persist through the winter. The leaves are about 2 to 3 inches long, leathery, and dark evergreen. They will turn a purplish color in the winter.
The large cultivars are be used for hedges, mass plantings, or screens, while the smaller compact cultivars are used for foundation shrubs.
Hawthorns prefer sun, but can grow in partial shade. Plants prefer moist, well-drained soil, but established shrubs can tolerate drought. Pruning is not necessary, but if needed, it should be done just after they bloom.
The most common disease found in Indian hawthorns is entomosporium leaf spot, caused by the fungus Entomosporium mespili. It is the most damaging after periods of frequent rainfall in the spring and fall. The first symptoms are tiny, red, round spots on both upper and lower sides of young leaves. To slow the spread of disease, properly space plants to improve air movement. Water shrubs with drip irrigation rather than overhead sprinklers to prevent the spread of disease. 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 the winter.
Diseased hawthorns may be sprayed with Daconil (chlorothalonil) when new leaves first appear in spring until early June. Spray every ten days during rainy spring weather and every two weeks during dry spring weather.
The best way to prevent leaf spot on Indian hawthorn is to plant selected resistant cultivars, grow them in full sun, and use drip irrigation. Recommended cultivars and varieties include: ‘Blueberry Muffin’, ‘Clara’, ‘Eleanor TaborTM’ (‘Connor PP9398), ‘Eskimo’, ‘Georgia Charm’, Georgia Petite’, Gulf GreenTM (‘Minor’), Indian Princess® (‘Monto’ PP5862), Majestic Beauty® (‘Montic’ PP3349), Olivia™ (‘Conia’ PP9399), Rosalinda® (‘Conda’ PP9056), ‘Snow White’, and Spring Sonata™ (‘Wilcor’ PP17972). The following cultivars are highly susceptible to leaf spot: ‘Enchantress’ also known as ‘Pinkie’, ‘Fascination’, ‘Harbinger of Spring’, ‘Heather’, ‘Spring Rapture’, ‘Springtime’, and ‘White Enchantress.
For more information on Indian hawthorn, please visit the Home and Garden Information Center website at hgic.clemson.edu. Tune in on Tuesday nights to watch “Making it Grow” at 7 p.m. on SCETV or mig.org. E-mail Outen at [email protected]
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