Indian Hawthorn: 3 Important Facts You Need To Know

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Indian Hawthorn

Indian Hawthorn

(Rhaphiolepsis indica) is a small, slow-growing shrub ideal for sunny locations. It’s not hard to care for. Hence it holds a neat, rounded shape naturally, without the need for pruning.

The shrub looks excellent 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 tiny blueberries that attract wildlife. Read on to find out how to grow Indian hawthorn.

Ornamental Features

Indian hawthorns are cultivated due to their attractively tidy, grouped build and bundles of flowers. 

The aromatic, pinkish, or white crabapple-appearance flowers unravel in clusters on the top of the vegetation from mid-April to May. 

Blue-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.

How to Grow Indian Hawthorn

Indian hawthorn is an evergreen; hence the dark green, leathery foliage stays on the branches through the year, picking on a purple color over winter.

The shrub endures winters in moderate climates and is graded for USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 11.

You’ll find plenty of uses for Indian hawthorn shrubs. Planted close together, they outline 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 that 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 thrives best in the high 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 ground 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 sowed Indian hawthorn shrubs evenly to hold the soil moist till they are well-established and start sprouting on fresh foliage.

When established, the Indian hawthorn accepts mild drought. Fertilize the plant for the first time in the spring of the year after planting and every spring and fall after that.

Feed the shrub lightly with a general-purpose fertilizer. Indian hawthorn rarely requires pruning.

One may need to prune lightly to remove dead and damaged branches, and you can do this pruning any time of year. If the shrub needs additional pruning, do so immediately after the flowers fade.


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)

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) 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

indian_hawthorne_showing_ entomosporium_leaf_spot_ damage

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 spots on Indian hawthorn is to plant selected resistant cultivars, grow them in a full sun site, and use drip irrigation.