How to grow hawthorns - hawthorns to try

How to grow hawthorn

Find out how to grow hawthorn, either as part of a hedge or as a standard tree, in our detailed Grow Guide.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do Plant in January

Do Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not Plant in October

Do Plant in November

Do Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Fruits
Fruits

Plant does not fruit in January

Plant does not fruit in February

Plant does not fruit in March

Plant does not fruit in April

Plant does not fruit in May

Plant does not fruit in June

Plant does not fruit in July

Plant does not fruit in August

Plant does fruit in September

Plant does fruit in October

Plant does not fruit in November

Plant does not fruit in December

Hawthorn (Crataegus) is synonymous with late spring, when its white and pink blossoms mark the changing season. We have two native hawthorns in the UK – Crataegus monogyna and Crataegus laevigata. Both grow individually as a small tree and are also used in hedging, either on their own or in a mix with other native hedgerow plants. The leaves, flowers and fruit (also known as ‘haws’) eaten by a number of wildlife species, and its dense thorny habit provides a safe nesting place for birds. Hawthorns make a good screen or specimen tree and are suitable for small gardens.

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Where to plant hawthorn

Hawthorns are full hardy, so will suit most garden locations. Ideally plant in moist but well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade.


How to plant hawthorn

How to grow hawthorns - planting a hawthorn hedge
How to grow hawthorns – planting a hawthorn hedge

Hawthorns are best planted when dormant, from autumn to spring, as bare-root trees or hedging plants.


How to propagate hawthorn

The best method of propagating hawthorns is from seed, saved from the haws or berries. It takes a long time, but start by mashing the berries to extract the seed and mix with sand. Sow in fine compost mixed with leaf mould, in pots. Keep well watered and seeds will germinate in around 18 months.

In this video clip from Gardeners’ World, Carol Klein shows you how to gather rose hips and hawthorn berries in autumn, then explains how to stratify them to encourage germination a couple of weeks later:


Hawthorn: problem solving

Hawthorns are pretty tough and disease resistant.


How to care for hawthorns

Hawthorns do not need much aftercare or pruning, unless you’re growing them as part of a hedge.


Great hawthorn varieties to try

How to grow hawthorns - hawthorns to try
How to grow hawthorns – hawthorns to try
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  • Crataegus ‘Crus-galli’ – a more unusual variety, native to Canada and North America, this offers good seasonal interest, with lots of creamy-white flowers in early summer followed by deep-red fruits, plus good foliage colour in autumn
  • Crataegus monogyna – this is one of our native varieties. It has fragrant white flowers in late spring, followed by glossy dark red fruit, known as haws. Trained as a hedge it will reach between 1.5 and 3m in height
  • Crataegus monogyna ‘Ferox’ – a large shrub or small tree with white scented flowers in late spring or early summer, followed by red fruits in autumn. It has thorns at the stem nodes
  • Crataegus persimilis ‘Prunifolia’ – a compact tree with long thorns, dark green foliage, and white flowers in early summer, followed by typical red fruits. The leaves have a fantastic autumn colour
  • Crataegus tanacetifolia – an upright, thornless tree with grey-green leaves fragrant white flowers in mid-summer and aromatic, orange-yellow fruits in autumn
  • Crataegus laevigata ‘Paul’s Scarlet’ – a cultivar of our other native hawthorn, Midland hawthorn, this has red, double flowers and grows to 8m in height