Posted by Brent Wilson on 8/17/2016 to Fertilizing & Watering Tips
When planted right and in the right spot, indian hawthorne, Rhaphiolepis, are exceptionally easy to grow and care for. These handsome, evergreen, spring-flowering shrubs have many uses in the landscape as accents, low-maintenance hedges, or in grouping and mass plantings in landscape borders and home foundation plantings.
Here's a breakdown of what you need to know regarding planting and care of indian hawthorne...
Indian Hawthorne adapt to many soil types. They'll grow well in most any average garden soil however prefer a moist, well-drained soil. Established plants will tolerate dry soil conditions. Well-drained soil is essential. As with so many other ornamental plants, constantly soggy or wet soils can cause root rot and other harmful plant diseases.
How To Test Soil Drainage
If you are uncertain about soil drainage in the area you intend to plant your Indian Hawthorne, it's well worth taking the time to test the drainage before planting. To test soil drainage, dig a hole 12" wide by 12" deep in the planting area. Fill the hole with water and let it drain. Then, after it drains, fill it with water again, but this time clock how long it takes to drain. In well-drained soil the water level will go down at a rate of about 1 inch an hour. A faster rate, such as in loose, sandy soil, may signal potentially dry site conditions and possibly a need to add organic matter to help retain moisture. A slower rate indicates poor draining soil and is a caution you need to improve drainage, plant in a raised mound or bed, or look for plants that are more tolerant of wet or boggy conditions.
Indian Hawthorne grow best in a moderately acid to slightly alkaline soil ranging between 6.0 to 7.5 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
How To Test Soil pH
Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil and is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. Any measurement below 7 indicates acid soil conditions, and anything above 7 indicates alkaline. If you're unsure about the pH of your soil, and whether or not it's suitable for growing Indian Hawthorne, it's a good idea to test the soil pH in the planting area. You can quickly test soil pH with an inexpensive soil pH tester probe. To raise the pH (make more alkaline) you can add pelletized limestone to the soil. To lower the pH (make more acid) you can apply Soil Sulfur, Aluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron. Adding organic compost to the soil or using compost as mulch can also help to increase acidity and maintain acid soil conditions.
Learn More: What is Soil pH and How To Adjust It?
Indian Hawthorne grow more dense and flower best in full to mostly sun. That said, they will tolerate a fair amount of shade. Morning sun is a must to dry dew from the leaves. I recommend at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day or all-day lightly filtered sun.
Planting Indian Hawthorne
Scroll down for container planting instructions
Start by digging your planting hole at least two to three times as wide and no deeper than the rootball. The wider the hole the better. Place native soil removed from planting hole around the perimeter of the hole, in a wheel barrow, or on a tarp.
Depending on the type, fertility and porosity of the soil in the planting area you might need to amend the native soil. When planting Indian Hawthorne in dense clay or poor quality soil it is beneficial to thoroughly mix in some good organic matter such as composted cow manure, mushroom compost, sand, and/or a good planting mix at a 50/50 ratio with the soil removed from the planting hole. When planting in very sandy or quick-draining soil consider mixing in some top soil, peat moss and/or compost to help retain moisture. When planting in fertile, loamy, well-drained moist soil there is no need for adding a soil amendment.
To remove your Indian Hawthorne from the container it was growing in, firmly grasp the base of the plant and try to gently lift and remove it from its container. If the root ball is stuck in the container either cut the container away or place the plant on it's side and gently pound on the side of the container to loosen the root ball. After having removed the plant from the container, loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball. If root bound, you can spray the sides and bottom of the root ball with a stream of water from a garden hose. This will help to wash away some soil from the exterior of the root ball making it easier to loosen roots.
If you are planting in well-drained soil set your Indian Hawthorne in the planting hole so that the top edge of the rootball is at or slightly above ground level (1-inch or so) to allow for settling. If your soil is moderately drained, meaning it drains slowly after rain, the top of the root ball should be 2 to 3 inches above ground level. If necessary, add some backfill soil mixture to the bottom of the hole to achieve proper planting height.
NOTE: If the soil is poorly drained (constantly soggy or wet) you can create a mound of soil completely above ground level to plant your Indian Hawthorne in or select a different plant species tolerant of wet soils.
After setting your Indian Hawthorne in the planting hole, use one hand to hold the plant straight and your other hand to begin back-filling your soil mixture around the root ball, tamping as you go to remove air pockets. When you have filled the hole to the halfway point you can soak the soil. Then continue back-filling to the top edge of the root ball. If you are planting the root ball higher than ground level taper your soil mixture gradually from the top edge of the root ball to the ground level, as shown in the planting diagram above. To avoid suffocating your plant, do not put any soil on top of the root ball.
Step 6 (Optional)
When planting your Indian Hawthorne in a site far away from a water source you can use remaining soil mixture to build a water retaining berm (catch basin) around the outside perimeter of the planting hole. This basin will help to collect water from rainfall and irrigation often reducing the need for hand-watering. The berm can be removed after a growing season or two.
Next, deeply water the planting area, including the root ball, to a depth equal to the height of the root ball. For an extra boost, you can water your newly planted Indian Hawthorne with a solution of Root Stimulator, which stimulates early root formation and stronger root development. Root Stimulator reduces plant shock and promotes greener, more vigorous plants.
Apply a 1 to 2" layer of aged, shredded or chipped wood mulch or pine straw around the planting area to concerve moisture and to suppress weed growth. Do not use freshly chipped or shredded wood for mulch until it has cured in a pile for at least 6 months, a year is better. Avoid placing or piling mulch directly against the base of your plant as this could cause the bark to rot.
Planting Indian Hawthorne In A Pot
Though Indian hawthorne prefer growing in the ground, they can be grown in pots, planters and other types of containers.
Indian Hawthorne growing in pots appreciate a moist but well-drained soil. Constantly soggy soil can and often will cause root rot or other harmful or deadly plant diseases. Therefore, when planting an Indian Hawthorne shrub in a container or pot, we recommend using a quality potting soil or potting mix, or a 50/50 combination thereof. You can also add some (10 or 20%) pumice or perlite to the soil mixture to help with drainage.
Choose a container with drainage holes at the bottom and one that is large enough to allow for 2 to 3 years of growth before shifting up to a larger size container. This might mean your planting pot would be at least 6 inches or more in diameter than the root ball of your plant.
Container color will matter as well. Not only will you want to pick a color of container that goes well with the foliage and flower color of your Indian Hawthorne, you'll also want to pick a container that matches the style of your home or other structures and other plants in the surrounding environment.
Many nursery & garden centers offer a wide variety of containers to choose from. Before heading out to buy a container take pictures of your home and the surrounding environment. Doing so will help you to choose just the right color and style.
Container Planting Instructions
Before filling your container with the soil mix, we recommend lining the bottom with shade cloth or a porous landscape fabric. This will keep the drain holes from becoming stopped up with soil. If you use gravel, stones or other material in the bottom of your pot lay the fabric over it.
To remove your Indian Hawthorne from the container it was growing in, firmly grasp the base of the plant and try to gently lift and remove it from its container. If the root ball is stuck in the container cut the container away or place the plant on it's side and tap on the side of the container to loosen the root ball. After having removed the plant from the container, if necessary loosen some feeder roots around the surface of the root ball. If root bound, you can spray the sides and bottom of the root ball with a stream of water from a garden hose. This will help to wash away some soil from the exterior of the root ball making it easier to loosen roots.
Pour a small amount of your soil mixture in the bottom of the container. Set the plant in the container and make necessary adjustments by adding or removing some soil so that the top edge of the root ball will sit 1/2 to 1" below the rim of the container.
Backfill with your potting soil around root ball, tamping as you go, until the level of potting soil is even with the top edge of root ball.
Water thoroughly until water starts to drain from the holes in the bottom of the container. Add more potting mix if settling occurs during watering.
Step 6 (Optional)
Apply a 1/2" layer of wood chips or sphagnum moss to soil surface to help conserve moisture.
How To Care for Indian Hawthorne
How To Fertilize Indian Hawthorne
Indian Hawthorne will benefit from fertilization. Indian Hawthorne are generally light feeders however an application in spring of a slow-release shrub & tree food, preferably one containing iron and/or sulfur, will help to retain a darker green foliage and support steady growth and overall health of the plant. Alternatively, you can feed with a natural organic plant food.
Note: To avoid stimulating new growth that could be damaged by an early frost, cease fertilization two months prior to the first frost date in your area.
Soil pH - Indian Hawthorne grow best in a moderately acid to slightly alkaline soil ranging from 6.0 to 7.5 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
Learn More: What Is Soil pH And How To Adjust It?
How To Water Indian Hawthorne
Indian Hawthorne must have a well-drained soil. When young they'll require some water to establish roots, however are exceptionally drought tolerant when established. They will not tolerate constantly soggy or wet soil conditions, which can lead to root rot and other harmful plant diseases. So be careful not to over-water them!
At Planting Time
Immediately after planting deep soak the soil in the planting area, including the rootball, to a depth equal to the height of the root ball. For an extra boost, you can water your newly planted Indian Hawthorne with a solution of Root Stimulator, which stimulates early root formation and stronger root development. Root Stimulator reduces plant shock and promotes greener, more vigorous plants.
During The First Growing Season
In average garden soil you should not have to water your newly planted Indian Hawthorne every day. More often than not, this causes soggy soil conditions that can lead to root rot and other harmful plant diseases. In the absence of sufficient rainfall, water only as needed to keep the rootball and surrounding soil damp to moist. Keep in mind that deep soaking less frequently, and allowing the soil to dry out somewhat before watering again, is much better than splashing just a little water on the plants every day. Shrubs planted during the winter dormant season, when plants are not actively growing and evaporation is much slower, will require much less water. So, be extra careful not to overwater during winter!
When established, Indian Hawthorne are exceptionally drought tolerant. Even during prolonged periods of dry weather established Indian Hawthorne will require little if any supplemental irrigation. That being said, if you see new leaves or stem tips wilting this could be an indicator your plants need a good deep soaking.
Note: When watering with an automated irrigation system it's best to set your timer to water during the early morning hours and not in the late evening or at night, which can lead to the onset of fungus and other foliar diseases. During the first few weeks after planting, check soil moisture often and adjust irrigation time if necessary to keep the soil moist, not wet.
How To Prune Indian Hawthorne
Indian Hawthorne do not require pruning to maintain their natural, dense, mounding form. Over-pruning can compromise the health of the plant over the long term. A stray or damaged branch that is spoiling the look and shape of the plant can be pruned any time of year. If a hedge is desired plants can be sheared to a more formal shape. However, keep in mind that shearing with hedge trimmers will cut leaves in half, leaving plants with what we think is an unsightly appearance.
When to Prune
If you intend on pruning or shearing Indian Hawthorne, the best time to do so is immediately after the spring bloom cycle. Light pruning or shearing can be done throughout spring and summer.
Note: Cease pruning two months prior to the average first-frost date in your area. Late pruning can encourage development of new leaves which could be damaged by an early freeze.
Plant Long & Prosper!
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