Indian Hawthorn

Prepared by Karen Russ, HGIC Information Specialist, and Bob Polomski, Extension Consumer Horticulturist, Clemson University. (New 4/00.)

HGIC 1078

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Indian hawthorns (Rhaphiolepis species and hybrids) are 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.

Mature Height/Spread

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.

Ornamental Features

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.

Landscape Use

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 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 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 spacing plants to improve air movement. Water plants with drip irrigation rather than overhead sprinklers. Collect and discard fallen diseased leaves.

The best way to prevent leaf spot on Indian hawthorn is to plant selected resistant cultivars (see below).


  • '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.
  • '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.
  • 'Dwarf Yedda' (also known as 'Minor') grows slowly to 2 to 3 feet tall and wide. The flowers are white. It has small, dark green leaves with excellent leaf spot resistance.
  • '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.
  • 'Georgia Charm' 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' 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.
  • 'Indian Princess' grows in a compact, mounded form with pink flowers that fade to white. This cultivar is one of the most resistant to leaf spot.
  • 'Jack Evans' has compact, upright growth to 4 to 5 feet tall. The double flowers are vivid pink. It is moderately resistant to leaf spot.
  • 'Majestic Beauty' grows to 8 to 10 feet tall or more with fragrant light pink flowers. It can be trained as a small tree. The large leaves have good resistance to leaf spot.
  • 'Snow White' is a dwarf form with a spreading habit to 3 to 4 feet tall. The flowers are pure white, and the leaves are light green. It has good leaf spot resistance.

These cultivars are highly susceptible to leaf spot:

  • 'Enchantress' also known as 'Pinkie'
  • 'Fascination'
  • 'Harbinger of Spring'
  • 'Heather'
  • 'Spring Rapture'
  • 'Springtime'
  • 'White Enchantress'

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This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.