Compact, evergreen shrubs that perfume the atmosphere for weeks in late spring or winter with their white or pink blossoms, dwarf Indian hawthorns (Raphiolepsis spp.) Stand just 2 to 4 feet high and wide. Their dense, shiny green foliage often deepens to red or purple in winter. The tidy, salt-tolerant shrubs thrive in sunlight to partial shade throughout U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 or 7 through 10 or 11, where their low-maintenance requirements pay off with year old performance.
Pink buds opening into popcorn-white blooms against deep-green foliage distinguish “Georgia Petite” (R. x delacourii “Georgia Petite”). Its 2-1/2- by 3-1/2-foot dimension fit perfectly under windows open to get its blossoms’ delicate fragrance. “Snow White” (R. umbellata “Snow White”), at 3 feet high having a 4-foot spread, pairs pink-stamened, white spring blossoms and dark-green foliage that takes on clues of bronze in autumn. Deep-blue or purple berries add to both shrubs’ ornamental appeal.
“Little Pinkie” and “Jack Evans” Indian hawthorns (R. indica “Little Pinkie, R. indica “Jack Evans”) stand just 3 and 2 feet high, respectively. At 3 feet wide, the highly salt-tolerant shrubs adorn both inland and wooded gardens using grey-green foliage, pink spring blossoms and late-summer, nearly black berries. They often reward gardeners with small-but-welcome flushes of repeat autumn blooms. For quick coverage, space these cultivars on 2-foot centers. Utilize them as ground covers, low hedges or even shrub-border foreground plantings. Like most of Indian hawthorns, these salt-tolerant shrubs produce excellent choices for coastal in addition to inland settings.
Enjoy the best of both white and pink Indian hawthorns using the 4-foot high and wide “Indian Princess” (R. indica “Monto”) cultivar. As its wide, brilliant-pink blooms gradually fade into white, the shrub sports both colours simultaneously. Bright-green foliage and blue-purple berries heighten the shrub’s visual impact.
Indian hawthorns call for a well-drained location. They perform best in moist, mildly acidic to neutral soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. For maximum leaf density and flower production, plant the shrubs in full sun. Throughout summer, they require watering in five- to 10-day intervals to keep their root zones adequately moist. Reduced irrigation increases their growth speed and lessens their blooms. Each spring, then feed the shrubs using a general-purpose fertilizer before their new growth emerges.
Although these tiny shrubs seldom require pruning, pinching back their tips each year after they finish blooming keeps them dense and curved. Simultaneously cutting any dead, diseased or broken growth and awkwardly angled branches keeps them tidy. Shortening vertical branches encourages them to propagate.
Insects and disease rarely disturb Indian hawthorns. The shrubs’ most serious threat comes from Entosporium leaf spot fungus. The disease strikes during cool, wet spring weather. Its small, red leaf spots merge into large patches since the disease progresses. Seriously contaminated leaf may drop from the plants. Watering using a soaker hose or drip irrigation to keep the leaves dry and disposing of fallen foliage control the fungus’ spread.