Skip Richter, based in Houston, is a popular speaker for garden clubs, Master Gardener programs, and other gardening events across Texas. He has...Full Bio


Indian hawthorn replacements

When I first starting hosting GardenLine years ago, I was a huge fan of what landscapers referred to as “snow hawthorns.” Today, they’re mostly called Indian hawthorns.

Photo: Getty Images

Back in my days working for Texas A&M University, I remember seeing hawthorns flowering throughout the campus, and not all were white. But the light- and dark-pink ones never seemed to be as full as the white ones. So, when I came to GardenLine, I felt a responsibility to make sure my listeners knew to stick with snow hawthorns only. As long as they got plenty of sunlight, they were about the best no-brainer landscape and hedgerow plant we could work with.

But as landscapes mature, less and less sunlight gets in. And, then, even snow hawthorns start to decline. In addition, it turns out that reduced sunlight promotes diseases, so they thin out even more. And over time, they just get leggy and ugly.

Plus, if you happen to get hawthorns that were raised in the Pacific Northwest, there’s a good chance they will more quickly develop a fungal disease, such as the leaf spot that’s so prevalent on red tip photinias and wax leaf ligustrums.

So, after getting my umpteenth phone call on the subject in recent six weeks, I thought it was time to come up with a list of hawthorn alternatives that can handle the filtered sunlight and growing shade that come with maturing landscapes.

And let’s assume the list in the photo gallery below this is just the start … I’d like your input as well. Email me with your ideas, post them to Facebook, or call the radio show at 713-212-KTRH (5874) this weekend. With your participation, we can build the ultimate hawthorn replacement list. But we have a couple of restrictions: They have to be only two or three feet tall at maturity, or be able to handle pruning more than once a year to keep them at that height. And they cannot be high-maintenance! For example, azaleas won’t be on the list.

Alternatives to Hawthorns

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