The Q&A Archives: Pruning Indian Hawthorne

Question: I have several Indian Hawthorne plants next to my house foundation. They get full sun only in late afternoon. They only have green growth on the tips of the bushes. The remainder of the bushes are an ashy gray with no green growth. Should these plant be transplanted where they will receive full sun and should I prune them back? If I prune them, how far should I prune? If I cut at all there will be no green growth. They just are unslightly in appearance and I am looking for a foundation bush which will be more pleasing, but I do like the flowers of the Indian Hawthorne. If I do transplant, what do you recommend in their place? I have a Victorian home. Thank You - I'm very new at this - but I do love it!

Answer: Hawthorn shrubs prefer full sunshine, so the bare branches are probably a result of inadequate sunshine, plus infrequent pruning. You can remove any twiggy growth that's non-productive, and then cut the remaining branches and stems back one-third to one-half to encourage new growth. Prune in the early spring to give the shrubs all summer to recover. They will grow in the partial shade, but won't be quite a lush and productive as they would be in full sunshine. If you decide to remove the hawthorn, consider Escallonia (with delicate pink flower clusters), Weigela, or one of the hybrid lilacs as replacements.

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