PHOTO: Snow White Indian Hawthorne (Raphiolepsis umbellata ‘Snow White’) - White, small clusters; plant grows to about 3.5’ by 3.5’.
My first blog request! And a dandy it is ….. Indian hawthorne (genus Raphiolepsis). Most Indian hawthorne are compact (although I’ve seen some Hawthorns approaching over 20’ tall), spring blooming with fragrance (showy in white or pink tones), evergreen shrub.
My subjective observations on the plant: This plant has slowly grown on me over the years. At first, there was a lack of availability in regard to numbers of and variations of Indian hawthorne varieties. Another thing I noticed that kept me from being keen on this plant is that there seemed to be a lot of under performing hawthornes out there. It has since occurred to me that Indian hawthorne is not one of those plants you dig a skimpy hole for and watch it thrive. You can do that with some easier to grow plants, like dwarf yaupon and Chinese holly, but not so much with Indian hawthorne. For instance, if I were going to plant Indian hawthorne in my front foundation planting bed, I’d probably think about adding some fresh soil (bagged or bulk) to the existing soil. The reasons for this extra soil are: (1) to create a “raised” environment (the grade sloping away from the house and the top of the plant root ball being higher than the surrounding soil) (2) to add organic material to the soil, which you will work into the existing dirt in your bed. Trust me, your hawthorne plants will appreciate the attention. Another reason I believe I've noticed so many poor looking Indian Hawthorns, in the past, is that many of them had leaf spot, and possibly, fire blight. Now, there are Raphiolepsis varieties that are disease resistant, making Indian hawthorne a much more viable choice for your garden.
PHOTO: Indian Princess Indian hawthorne (Raphiolepsis indica ‘Monto’) - Pink flower clusters that fade to white for a two color effect; plant grows about 3’ tall by about 5’ wide.
But wait! I’m getting ahead of myself, here. Will Indian hawthorne grow in the conditions I have awaiting it? Here is the recipe for good Indian hawthorne behavior:
A. Full sun to part shade - Indian Hawthorns appear to do best in full sun, although I have seen some that seemed to get too much sun, perhaps a hot afternoon sun reflecting off a sidewalk or driveway contributing to that bleached out or scorched look I’ve noticed a few times. I would say, in most instances, that 4+ hours of sunlight should be enough to make your plantings happy. Note that there is some discrepancy among nurseries on how much sun they say Raphiolepsis needs, with some stating the plant will grow in full shade. I just haven’t seen that happening and I don’t agree. Sorry big, huge wholesale nursery in South Alabama whose name I won’t mention :-)
B. Well drained, organically rich soil - thus the addition of soil to your planting bed.
C. Living within zone 7 thru 10 - This depends on variety, but you are generally safe if you live within these zone parameters. Here in North Shelby County, we are in the southern part of zone 7, so Indian hawthorne should be able to survive most anything Old Man Winter has to dish out.
D. Planting the variety that makes since for you. There are lots of species and varieties of Raphiolepsis, so I suggest you read the label carefully when buying an Indian hawthorne. Look for a type that is disease resistant, since Indian hawthornes can get leaf spot. Here are a few disease resistant varieties - Olivia, Gulf Green, Indian Princess, Snow White, Majestic Beauty, Janice, Eleanor Tabor, Jack Evans and Rosalinda. . Check and make sure the hardiness rating includes zone 7 (assuming you live in the Birmingham area) and see what size the plant you are considering will grow to. If you chose a smaller growing, compact variety, you’ll likely have little or no pruning to do for years to come.
PHOTO: Majestic Beauty Indian hawthorne (Raphiolepsis X ‘Montic’) - Pink, star shaped flowers in huge clusters; plant can grow to 15’+ tall by 12’+ wide.
PHOTO: Eleanor Tabor Indian hawthorne (Raphiolepsis umbellata ‘Conor’) - Pink, small clusters; plant grows to about 3.5’ by 3.5’.