Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica) is one of the most bulletproof shrubs around. Need a plant in a pot? Indian hawthorn. Need a low, compact hedge? Indian hawthorn. Want pretty spring flowers? Indian hawthorn. Need a shrub with small, glossy, dark green leaves? You guessed it, Indian hawthorn. Evergreen? Indian hawthorn. Suits an exposed balcony or garden with heat, wind, coastal conditions or even salt spray? Indian hawthorn! Frost tolerant? Indian hawthorn. Can be clipped? Indian hawthorn. Yes, it is really versatile, and pretty as well.

 

A little about Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica) 

The shrub grows to around 2.4m high and wide and has clusters of small, white, lightly fragrant flowers in spring and early summer, followed by round blue-black non-toxic berries which persist for many months. Bees and other insects love Indian hawthorn in spring when it is in flower.

As well as the white-flowered species, there are many cultivars that are compact (to around 1m high and wide) and some with the option of pink flowers.

Despite its common name, Indian hawthorn isn’t actually from India, but is native to southern China. It is part of the rose family, but evergreen and thornless.

Top varieties

‘Apple Blossom’ Pink flowers; compact shrub 1-1.5m high x 1.5m-2m wide.

‘Little Bliss’ White flowers; dwarf shrub 60cm-1m high and wide.

‘Oriental Pearl’ White flowers; compact shrub 80cm-1m high x 1m wide

‘Snow Maiden’ Large, white, semi-double flowers; 75cm-1m high x 50cm wide.

‘Springtime’ Pale pink flowers; 1.5m high and wide.

 

A selection of Rhaphiolepis flower images with pink and white blossoms and green foliage. Rhaphiolepis varieties, from left: 'oriental pearl', 'springtime', 'snow maiden', 'apple blossom' and 'little bliss'.

Care and maintenance

This shrub needs no special care and grows happily in a sunny to partially shaded spot. Water new plants and those in pots regularly especially when it is dry. Once shrubs are established in the garden they are drought tolerant but still appreciate occasional watering in dry summers. Fertilise in spring with a complete fertiliser. They have no specific pests or diseases.

Although the featured varieties are naturally compact, plants can be lightly pruned after flowering to maintain a rounded shape or in a hedge. Pruning also removes spent flowers and reduces berry formation.