Rhaphiolepis indica, also known as the Indian Hawthorn, is popular due to its beautiful, pink blooms. It falls in the Rosaceae family of flowers. Despite the name, it is native to the warm, temperate regions of Southern China. It grows abundantly in East and Southeast Asia and some parts of Australia as well. Indian Hawthorns are a dense-leaved shrub that grow naturally into a beautiful, rounded shape.
The shrub is about 3m to 4m in height. They grow in slopes or in woods alongside streams and makes for an excellent decorative plant. The brown branches have a tinge of purple when young and turns greyish brown when old. The star-petaled flower grows in racemes of white or pink and is extremely fragrant. The clusters are fully covered with flowers giving the plant an innately elegant look.
The plant features oblong leaves that can be 2 to 4 inches in length. The leaves are serrated and have a leathery texture that gleams with a bronze tint when young, but matures to a dark green. The plant is in full bloom during the spring time. The flowers morph into an apple-resembling fruit, blue-black in color. The berries can be had throughout winter, unless of course, they are devoured by some animals or birds. The fruit is edible to humans when cooked and can be made into jams.
Varieties of Rhaphiolepis indica
There are several varieties of Rhaphiolepis indica. Some of them are listed below:
- Rhaphiolepis indica ‘Little Pinkie’: This particular variety boasts vibrant pink flowers and is about up to 2 feet tall. This variety blooms twice a year, once during the spring and other in the fall. The leaves are greyish brown in color. They take on a reddish-brown tinge during winter and makes for a beautiful sight. ‘Pinkie’ can sustain in rough weather condition and can tolerate heat or drought without losing its air of elegance. It makes for a great hedge that can accentuate our home garden and also works best as specimen or an accent plant.
- Rhaphiolepis indica ‘Indian Princess’: This variety grows as a compact shrub featuring both white and yellow flowers. It has bright green leaves. The plant can grow up to about 4 ft. This variety prefers warmer climate with moist, well-drained soil. It is an excellent choice to ornate our gardens with. It blooms best in full or dappled sunlight.
- Rhaphiolepis x ‘Montic’: This is a hybrid that grow up to a 24ft in height and can be 10 feet wide. They grow mostly during the spring. The leaves are leathery and dark green in color. They blossoms are a vibrant, delicate pink. They make for excellent garden choice and must be planted in moderate sunlight but not in shade.
How long does it take to grow Rhaphiolepis indica?
The flowering time for Rhaphiolepis indica is mostly through the beginning of spring, though some varieties grow during the fall through winter. It is fairly easy to care for the Indian Hawthorn. The only thing to heed is where to plant the shrub. Indian Hawthorns typically thrive in warm, temperate regions. They prefer a good sunny spot with adequate air-flow.
If potted, they must have sufficient scope for drainage with a loosely assembled pot mix. Dampness is not suitable for the plant as it may lead to diseases. The plant, once mature, need not be regularly watered. If only a longer draught condition prevails, do the plant needs watering. There is no hassle with fertilizers and pruning as well, as that can be done once a year. These plants are easy to grow and care for with results that can be breath-taking. The cluster of pinks and white on any corner of a garden are sure to make heads turn.
These plants need full sunlight for the blooms to thrive. Therefore, about six hours of direct sunlight will bring out the best in the plant. They can also survive in partial shade, though a full sun is recommended for its healthier growth.
Temperature and Humidity
A pretty pinkish bloom in places with mild winters and warm summers is what Indian Hawthorn is all about. This shrub, with evergreen foliage, can tolerate a good range of temperature starting from five degrees Fahrenheit to about ninety degrees Fahrenheit. However, it cannot sustain in prolonged cold that leads to getting the leaves infested with diseases that eventually kills the plant. But it is very easy to grow and thrives without any special care in warm climates with moderate humidity.
Indian Hawthorns are shrubs that can grow in different types of soils. However, the soil must have good drainage and be moisture-retentive. They bloom to their fullest in soil that are not soggy. If potted, the containers must have adequate drainage holes for the water to pass. Soggy soil causes the root to rot. It also leads to the withering of the leaves and other diseases. The pH level must be slightly acidic to mildly alkaline. Transplantation must be done in spring or autumn.
The young shrub of the Indian hawthorn must be watered regularly so as to maintain the moisture of the soil. Once the shrub matures, watering is required only if there is no rainfall for a longer stretch of time. Young shrubs of the plant favors consistently moist soil though not to the extent of being soggy. So regular watering is required during the early stages. Mature shrubs can bloom even without water for some good amount of time. Though extreme dryness due to prolonged lack of water makes the leaves susceptible to leaf-spot-a bacterial condition. Thus, when the soil begins to dry, soaking the soil with water becomes necessary. During winters the shrub growth ceases. During this time, watering can be restricted. However, one must look for wilts and dry leaves which is an indication that the plant needs watering.
How to Plant and Grow Rhaphiolepis indica
Rhaphiolepis indica is an evergreen shrub with dark green foliage brimming the plant all year long. The plant wears a slightly different color when the leaves are glazed with tinges of purple during winters. Though the plant is suitable for warmer climates, it can thrive in mild winters. The shrub can be planted close together to form a dense hedge that can be used as barriers or borders, alongside driveways and pathways.
When the closely-knitted hedge blooms during the spring, the pathways throng with pink and white clusters, making it an attractive sight. It can also be used to section the garden area or planted in a long bed to give a very stylish vibe to the garden. The plant requires very little watering once it matures and can tolerate salty soils. This is a reason why it is used for seaside planting.
The shrub grows very well in pots and containers. So, it can be used to decorate the patios, decks, porches and balconies. The one thing to remember is to place the containers in adequate sunlight and provide enough drainage holes, so as not to turn the soil moist. The plant can grow in all types of soil and can even grow in partial shade. But it blooms best in the full sun. These conditions intact and the plant will be bent with the weight of fully blooming clusters of pink or white flowers. The plant can grow between 3-6ft in width and can be spaced accordingly to bring out the best.
The plant does not require a lot of fertilizing. In the spring season, when the bloom is fullest the tree can be fed with a slow-release fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer. The plant can also be fed with organic fertilizer, four times a week during spring. Sufficient phosphorous, potassium and micro-nutrients can serve well for the flowers and fruits. Well-mixed compost and soil blend can be used for the healthy growth of the shrub.
The Indian hawthorn plant does not need pruning as it has a naturally rounded shape with mounds of well-arranged clusters. The gardener need not bother much with the growth and shape of the plant as it grows aesthetically into a compact mound. Only when the branch is broken does it need a trim, directly at the edge of the cut. A clean cut heals the branch and does not lead to any diseased end.
A cut very close to a bud may lead the bud to die off. Thus, the cut needs to be made about an inch above the bud. Diseases and dead stems must be immediately removed. If the wood that has been cut looks dis-colored, then another cut must be made a few inches below that so as to remove any diseased part. Otherwise, if the plant looks healthy, then the need for pruning is limited and can be done annually to keep the shrub in well-rounded shape.
Re-growing of Rhaphiolepis indica can be done from seeds or from semi-hardwood cuttings. Professionals also use grafting technique to propagate the plant. Air-layering is not preferred for re-growing the shrub.
Transplanting and Repotting
Transplanting must be done during the winters or early spring. Transplanting does not kill the plant in most cases. But it must be done with utmost care.
Rhaphiolepis indica begins to flower in full bloom in spring. So, repotting should be done just at the beginning of spring, before the plant starts flowering. It can be repotted every two to three years.
Diseases and Pests
Indian Hawthorns are a favorite of the deer population. In case you live in an area frequented by deer, you need to protect your shrub and place them in location where it is out of reach for them. They are also vulnerable to insects and pests like aphids and nematodes.
As far as diseases are concerned, the plant is susceptible to leaf-spot- a bacterial or bacterial infection that leads to wilting. A good air circulation and moisture-retentive soil is a good solution to fight the fungal or bacterial disease. The plant may also suffer from leaf discoloration or damage. Using an organic neem spray can take care of any such anomalies.
How to Care for Rhaphiolepis indica
Rhaphiolepis indica is very easy to care for. The newly planted, young shrubs must be frequently watered. Once they mature, they do not need regular watering unless the soil becomes very dry. In that case, a little soaking is all it needs to get the plant back to its health. The soil may be fertilized for the first spring when the first bloom is about to take place. After that fertilizing may be done once very spring and fall.
The plant needs little pruning owing to its natural mound. Pruning only needs to be done to remove dead stems and leaves. The shrub must be kept free from pests and a little prune after the flowers fall is all it takes to grow this evergreen shrub. The beautiful pink or white clusters is sure to give a very classy makeover to a garden to a patio and is used widely for landscaping.