Indian hawthorns (Rhaphiolepis species and hybrids) are mostly low-growing, evergreen, flowering shrubs. With a dense mounded growth habit, they are ideal low-maintenance plants for use in small gardens and foundation plantings.
Most cultivars grow between 3 and 6 feet tall and about the same in width. A few are large shrubs that can be trained to a small tree form.
Indian hawthorns are grown for their attractively neat, mounded form and clusters of flowers. The fragrant, pink or white crabapple-like flowers open in clusters above the foliage in mid-April to May. Bluish-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.
The compact cultivars of Indian hawthorn are suitable for use as foundation shrubs, while larger cultivars may be used for hedges, mass plantings or screening.
Indian hawthorns are sensitive to cold damage and should be sited in protected areas if grown in the upper part of South Carolina.
Plants prefer sun, although they will grow in partial shade. Indian hawthorn prefers moist, well-drained soil, but established shrubs will tolerate drought. It is tolerant of salt spray and sandy soils and is a good choice for coastal areas.
Pruning is rarely necessary. If pruning is needed it should be done just after bloom.
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.
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) beginning 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
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 spot on Indian hawthorn is to plant selected resistant cultivars (see below), grow them in a full sun site, and use drip irrigation.
- ‘Blueberry Muffin’ is very cold hardy with good root rot and foliage disease resistance. It has white flowers, and deep blue fruit. The leaves turn deep purple in winter if grown in full sun. R. umbellata.
- ‘Clara’ is white flowered, with reddish new growth that matures to dark green. It grows 3 to 4 feet tall. It is moderately resistant to leaf spot. R. indica.
- ‘Eleanor Tabor™’ (‘Conor’ PP9398) is a pink-flowered cultivar that has very good leaf spot resistance, unless planted in less than 6 hours of sun. Grows to 3 to 5 feet tall. R. indica.
- ‘Eskimo’ is cold tolerant to 5 °F, and exhibits very high resistance to leaf spot. ‘Eskimo’ grows up to 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide with white flowers. R. x delacourii.
- ‘Georgia Charm’ (PP9982) bears white blossoms and grows to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It has good resistance to leaf spot and is cold hardy to 5 °F.
- ‘Georgia Petite’ (PP9983) bears blooms of light pink and white and grows to 2½ feet tall and 3 feet wide. It has good resistance to leaf spot and is cold hardy to 5 °F. This is a hybrid R. x delacourii.
- Gulf Green™ (‘Minor’) grows 3 to 4 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide with white flowers.
- Indian Princess® (‘Monto’ PP5862) grows in a compact, mounded form with pink flowers that fade to white. This cultivar is one of the most resistant to leaf spot. R. indica.
- Majestic Beauty® (‘Montic’ PP3349) grows to 8 to 10 feet tall or more by 5 to 10 feet wide with fragrant light pink flowers. It can be trained as a small tree. The large leaves have good resistance to leaf spot.
- Olivia™ (‘Conia’ PP9399) is one of the most disease resistant Indian hawthorns. It grows to 4 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide with white flowers.
- Rosalinda® (‘Conda’ PP9056) is typically grown as a tree form, and reaches 10 to 12 feet tall by 8 to 10 feet wide. R. indica.
- ‘Snow White’ is a dwarf form with a spreading habit to 3 to 4 feet tall by 4 to 6 feet wide. The flowers are pure white, and the leaves are light green. It has good leaf spot resistance. R. indica.
- Spring Sonata™ (‘Wilcor’ PP17972) grows to 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide with white flowers. Bloom time is about 2 weeks later than other Indian hawthorns. R. indica.
These cultivars are highly susceptible to leaf spot:
- ‘Enchantress’ also known as ‘Pinkie’
- ‘Harbinger of Spring’
- ‘Spring Rapture’
- ‘White Enchantress
Table 1. Fungicides for the Control of Entomosporium Leaf Spot on Indian Hawthorn.
|Active ingredients||Examples of Brand Names & Products|
|Chlorothalonil||Bonide Fung-onil Concentrate
Ferti-lome Broad Spectrum Landscape & Garden Fungicide Concentrate
GardenTech Daconil Fungicide Concentrate
Hi-Yield Vegetable, Flower, Fruit & Ornamental Fungicide Concentrate
Ortho MAX Garden Disease Control Concentrate
Southern Ag Liquid Ornamental & Vegetable Fungicide Concentrate
Tiger Brand Daconil Concentrate
|Myclobutanil||Spectracide Immunox Multi-purpose Fungicide Concentrate
Ferti-lome F-Stop Lawn & Garden Fungicide Concentrate
|Propiconazole||Ferti-lome Liquid Systemic Fungicide II Concentrate
Banner Maxx Fungicide
Bonide Infuse Concentrate
Bonide Fung-onil Lawn & Garden Disease Control RTS1
Martin’s Honor Guard PPZ
|1RTS = Ready to Spray (hose-end spray bottle)|