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How to Grow Indian Hawthorn

By Cathryn Chaney ; Updated September 21, 2017
Indian hawthorns are resistant to rabbits.

For the space it occupies in your landscape, Indian hawthorne (Rhaphiolepis indica) delivers a lot of value. The rounded, evergreen shrubs seldom get above 5 feet tall and wide and have a tidy growth habit. In spring, depending on the cultivar, fragrant pink to white flowers are plentiful, and fall rebloom may occur. Bluish-black fruits provide fall color and attract songbirds. Hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11, Indian hawthorn is drought tolerant once established.

Soil and Spacing

Indian hawthorn tolerates a wide variety of soil types, including loam and sandy soils, but it needs good drainage. ) Spacing for plants depends on the landscape usage and the cultivar involved. Shrubs usually cover a 3- to 6-foot diameter space. Plant them closer than the stated mature dimensions for the particular cultivar for continuous coverage. For mass plantings, the California Department of Transportation spaces Indian hawthorn on 2 foot centers and 3 feet away from walls or fences. Space plants 18 inches apart for hedges or foundation plantings.

Water Requirements

For the first year in the landscape, keep the soil moist with regular, deep watering to establish a good root system. During hot summer months, you may have to water more than once a week. Established plants tolerate drought, but grow best when irrigated through the summer at five-to 10-day intervals. You can conserve water by fewer irrigations without compromising the plant's appearance, but plants have reduced growth and flowering. Apply water to the soil rather than using overhead irrigation so diseases such as leaf spot don't have a favorable environment. Apply a 3 inch layer of mulch around Indian hawthorn to conserve soil moisture.

Light and Exposure

Indian hawthorn grows in either sun or part shade. Growth is more compact and shrubs have more flowers in full sun. The plants tolerate wind, air pollution and some exposure to salt spray in coastal areas. In areas near the sea, plant Indian hawthorn behind the dune line and away from prevailing winds to reduce the effects of salt spray.

Fertilizer Needs

Avoid giving Indian hawthorn too much fertilizer, which produces excessive new growth at the expense of flowers. The abnormal growth also makes plants more susceptible to leaf diseases. Apply an all-purpose fertilizer once a year in spring. Choose a formulation such as granular 10-10-10. Apply 1 cup every 25 square feet, plus one cup for every 4 feet of shrub height. Scatter the granules evenly over the soil surface and water them in well. Wait to fertilize newly planted Indian hawthorn until the plant is putting out new growth.

Special Considerations

Indian hawthorn is in the rose family and susceptible to some of the diseases that attack rose family plants such as leaf spot. If you live in an area with frequent spring and fall rain, choose disease-resistant cultivars of Indian hawthorn.Pink-flowered "Indian Princess" (Rhaphiolepis x "Montic"), growing in USDA zones 7 through 11, is one of the most disease-resistant cultivars. "Georgia Petite" (Rhaphiolepis x delacourii "Georgia Petite"), with pink buds and white flowers and hardy in USDA zones 7 through 10, has good leaf spot resistance.


About the Author


Cathryn Chaney has worked as a gardening writer since 2002. Her horticultural experience working in the nursery industry informs her garden articles, especially those dealing with arid landscaping and drought-tolerant gardening. Chaney also writes poetry, which has appears in "Woman's World" magazine and elsewhere. Chaney graduated from the University of Arizona in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.