Growing Indian Hawthorn in the Home Landscape

An Excellent Drought-Resistant Landscape Shrub

Rhaphiolepis indica. Pink bush in the garden.
Natalia Spiridonova / Getty Images

Indian hawthorn is an excellent shrub choice for urban landscapes in warmer climates (USDA zones 7 to 11). It is a focal point of the spring landscape in spring when it is covered with large clusters of fragrant white or pink flowers. It is a beautiful small shrub year-round since its foliage is evergreen.

Indian Hawthorn Plants

Indian hawthorn is a relatively small shrub that is slow-growing. Its shape is naturally round and neat, and it does not require much pruning to stay that way. The pink or white spring flowers give way to blue berries that wildlife love.

The leaves are 2 to 4 inches and oblong with a thick, leathery texture and serrated edges. Look for the top side of the leaf to be a darker shade of green than the underside. Some varieties may have leaves that are red when they first unfurl. Others change to red or purple in the fall.

The lovely flowers are star-shaped and appear in shades of white and pink. They feature five petals and are clustered together in panicles. Some varieties are fragrant. The dark blue fruits produced are a type called a pome. Other examples of pomes include apples, pears, and rose hips.

Botanical Information

The species name for Indian hawthorn is Rhaphiolepis indica, the most popular member of the Rhaphiolepis genus. Indian hawthorn and its relatives are native to temperate and subtropical regions of eastern and southeastern Asia. Indian hawthorn falls in the Maleae (apple) tribe of the Rosaceae family and is also related to pears, quince, serviceberry, and mountain ash. The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a close relative. Crosses have been made between these two genera.

The shrub does well in USDA zones 7 to 11, and most varieties grow to a mature size of 2 to 5 feet in height and width.

Landscape Uses

The Indian hawthorn is one of the smaller evergreen shrubs, so it lends itself to versatile uses. It is particularly good in urban environments since it tolerates pollution and salt, as well as heat, drought, and high humidity. They are excellent at seaside landscapes.

Indian hawthorn shrubs can be planted close together to form a good, dense hedge, and they also work well for foundation plantings. Indian hawthorn is also a good choice for wildlife gardens, since many birds, including cedar waxwings, are attracted to its fruit. Due to their small size and compact shape, Indian hawthorn works well in container plantings.

Take a bit from the Top
KY / Getty Images

Growing Indian Hawthorn

Plant Indian hawthorn in full sun or partial shade. It does well in most soils of any texture or pH level, but with very heavy or very porous soils, it is a good idea to work in compost. Choose a location with good drainage for the best growth and to avoid problems with root rots.

If you water deeply and consistently for the first season so the roots can become developed, the Indian hawthorn will be drought-tolerant.

Feeding should be done with a general-purpose fertilizer every spring and fall. Apply fertilizer lightly.

Pruning is mainly used to create the desired shape and is not necessary for the plant's health. Some gardeners prefer to let the shrub mound naturally. You can also make this shrub into a ball form, a hedge, a standard shrub, or, with larger varieties, a small tree. Do any pruning just after flowering has occurred so you do not curtail next year's bloom crop. You can also deadhead to remove spent blossoms and make the shrub look more appealing.

Propagation of this plant may be done from seeds and semi-hardwood cuttings.

Pests and Diseases

Common pests that can affect the Indian hawthorn include:

  • Aphids
  • Black vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus)
  • Chilli thrips (Scirtothrips dorsalis)
  • Flatheaded borers (Chrysobothris spp.)
  • Florida wax scale (Ceroplastes floridensis)
  • Fuller rose beetle (Asynonychus godmani)

Possible diseases include:

  • Entomosporium leaf spot (Entomosporium mespili)
  • Fire blight (Erwinia amylovora)
  • Powdery mildew
  • Root rots
  • Verticillium wilt (Verticillium spp.)

Recommended Varieties

  • 'Georgia Petite' (R. x delacourii 'Georgia Petite') is 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 feet., with white blooms. The berries are deep blue to purple.
  • 'Snow White' (R. umbellata 'Snow White') is 3 feet high and 4 feet wide. It has white spring flowers and its dark green foliage turns bronze in fall. Its berries are deep blue.
  • 'Little Pinkie' (R. indica 'Little Pinkie') is 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide, with grey-green foliage. Its spring flowers are pink, and its berries are dark blue, nearly black. It may repeat bloom in the fall.
  • 'Indian Princess' (R. indica 'India Princess') is 4 feet high and wide and has both white and pink flowers. Its foliage is bright green, and its berries are blue-purple.
  • 'Majestic Beauty' (Rhaphiolepis x 'Montic') is one of the rare larger varieties, growing to 15 to 25 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide. Flowers with pearl-pink blooms in spring.
Rhaphiolepis umbellata flower and berries
Rhaphiolepis umbellata. JOSE LUIS VEGA GARCIA / Getty Images
Rhaphiolepis Indica is hardy and evergreen plant
Indica Little Pinkie. Mayerberg / Getty Images
Rhaphiolepis indica
Indica Princess. seven75 / Getty Images