How to Prune May Hawthorn


May hawthorn is a spiny tree found in the outer coastal plains of North Carolina. Used to stabilize riverbanks, it also provides shelter and nesting sites for birds and rodents. May hawthorn can grow up to 34 feet tall and has small white flowers that produce red fruits. The leaves are narrow and shiny with serrated ends. May hawthorn grows in river swamps, ponds, and streams. It is also wind tolerant, making it an ideal species for windbreaks. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun.

Step 1

Prune may hawthorn in winter or early spring. This ensures hardy and abundant growth the following growing season.

Step 2

Cut the tops of the may hawthorn using pruning shears. The goal is to produce one strong stem leader and encourage the hawthorn to grow tall. Prune all lateral branches that are twisted and old.

Step 3

Remove a broken or diseased branch by cutting off the entire branch. Sterilize the pruning shears with methanol between cuts to decrease the potential spread of disease. Remove all insect-infected stems and branches to avoid contaminating the hawthorn.

Step 4

For may hawthorn saplings, prune to one central stem and remove all weak branches to allow adequate light to shoot through. Stems arising from the root of the hawthorn, or sucker stems, should be removed as soon as they shoot up through the soil

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears


  • May Hawthorn Plant Guide: USDA
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About this Author

Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on and Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.