Hawthorns (Crataegus) are popular shrubs or small trees for gardens, mostly near-natural gardens. There are around 200 to 300 species, but only a good 20 in Europe and only three in Germany. These are very similar and can hardly be distinguished from a layperson. They are the single-fluted hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), the double-fluted hawthorn (C. laevigata) and the large-calyzed hawthorn (C. curvisepala).

Why hawthorn is so popular

The hawthorn is a popular hedge plant for free-growing hedges. Birds in particular are happy about these plants. They breed in the thorny branches and are there well protected from most predators. In addition, the berries of the hawthorn are edible, and not just for birds. You can use them to make compote and jelly or mix them with other fruits. Hawthorn is very easy on pruning, which is why it makes a good hedge plant. The only disadvantage of the cut is that the flowers are not so lush, because the flowers only appear on the perennial wood.

Growth and flowering

The hawthorn grows very branched and can reach heights of several meters. It blooms in umbels between April and May. The flowers give off a pleasant scent that attracts insects in particular. The small, red, apple-like fruits appear between August and September. They stick to the wood for a long time and often survive the winter.

Hawthorns with double flowers are particularly beautiful. Asian and North American species are also popular ornamental trees. They shine with larger fruits and a more intense autumn color, but are purely not so attractive for most native bird species in terms of food. The single-action hawthorn is usually used for hedges. It is best cut into shape. Uncut it reaches heights of 2 to 5 meters. Its annual growth is 20 to 40 cm per year.

Warning – fire blight

All hawthorn trees have one major disadvantage. They are prone to fire blight, a dangerous disease that must even be reported. The pathogen is a bacterium that spreads extremely quickly. There are numerous routes of infection. Fire blight can be recognized by the fact that leaves and flowers suddenly wilt from the petiole and turn brown or even black. The shoot tips curve down like a hook. The plant looks like it has been burned, hence the name fire blight. In addition, bacterial sludge escapes at the infection sites.

Fire blight must be reported to the state office or the state agency for agriculture. The destruction of all highly susceptible or infested plants in a quarantine zone can be ordered. Beekeeping is usually forbidden. Most of the time, only clearing helps. Research is currently being carried out into resistant species and varieties.

Hawthorn – care

Hawthorn is very undemanding and easy to care for, the ideal garden wood if you disregard fire blight. The wood is very heat-tolerant and created for absolutely sunny locations. The hawthorn also has no problem with salt-laden winds and thrives in the vicinity of salt water. Ideal companions of the hawthorn are wild roses, sloe, sea buckthorn, barberry, privet, hazel, red dogwood, hornbeam and black elder.


The hawthorn likes the sun. He prefers a location in full sun. He also tolerates heat build-up and gets along much better with the sun than with the shade. A slightly partially shaded location is also tolerated. However, he does not like too much shade, although these trees are also touted as being shade-friendly.

  • Sunny location
  • Penumbra is tolerated
  • Tolerates heat and heat build-up
  • Very windproof

Plant substrate

The hawthorn does not make any great demands on the plant substrate. It thrives on almost all soils. They mustn’t be too wet, but otherwise he can handle anything.

  • No special demands on the floor
  • Normal garden soil is sufficient
  • Medium to light soils are preferred.
  • They should be neutral to slightly alkaline.
  • PH value – 6.0 to 8.0
  • Very acidic soils are unsuitable.
  • Poor development on dry, nutrient-poor soils.
  • Sensitive to soil compaction


There is nothing special to consider when planting. The best time to plant the hawthorn is autumn. The soil should be well enriched with nutrients. The planting hole must be deep enough and offer space. It is important to pay attention to the planting distances. It is best to buy bare-rooted plants. We recommend buying and planting hawthorns that are as young as possible. Older specimens tend to grow poorly.

  • Planting time is autumn, before the first frosts or in spring
  • Loosen the soil well before planting and enrich it with natural fertilizer (compost, horn shavings, dung) (ideally 14 days before planting)
  • Praline bare-rooted trees before planting. To do this, immerse the roots in a mixture of water and peat for 30 minutes. It is beneficial to add some fertilizer to this mixture. Then place the tree in the planting pit. It is important not to squeeze the roots. Cover the roots neatly with soil.
  • In the case of bale goods, place the bale in the pit, loosen the cloth and, if necessary, remove the wires. Bale cloths are biodegradable and can remain in the pit.
  • Container goods are the easiest to plant. You take the hawthorn out of the container, carefully untangle the roots with your fingers, put the plant in and pour earth on it.
  • In any case, gently press the earth with both feet. If there is too much empty space, the roots are in danger of rotting when watering is done. But if you press too hard, the roots are threatened with suffocation.
  • Water vigorously after planting
  • When planting hedges, leave enough space, plant spacing – three plants per meter

Watering and fertilizing

The hawthorn is not very demanding. It can cope with drought quite well, but sometimes loses some of its leaves in the process. If the soil is often too dry, it weakens the tree or bush. He becomes more susceptible to diseases and pests. It is better to water from time to time when it is dry. Older trees cope better with drought. The hawthorn is deep-rooted and nourishes itself with water from the depths. However, it takes the wood a few years to penetrate until then. Fertilizing is not necessary. It only makes sense to incorporate some compost in the spring.

  • Do not let the pads dry out completely
  • Young trees in particular need a little more water
  • After growing, the plants are largely self-sufficient.
  • No additional fertilizer necessary
  • Too much fertilizer is actually harmful. It reduces the formation of flowers.

To cut

The hawthorn is absolutely compatible with cutting. That is why it can also be used as a hedge plant. However, it never reaches its full beauty, because you cut off the flower roots with every cut. It is better to let the hedge grow and not to cut it. Of course, space is required for this.

  • Very cut compatible
  • Grows particularly vigorously after the cut
  • Don’t cut it for the first two to three years
  • It is best to shorten it before budding
  • Also possible after flowering or during the growing season
  • Carry out heavy cuts with the appropriate tool
  • If you want to raise a tree, the low side branches have to be removed.
  • In autumn or winter, pruning is done to achieve a crown. This has to be thinned out so that more light can get into it.
  • Do not cut in frost!
  • It is best to cut hedge plants in June.
  • The easiest to care for is to cut the hedge smooth every two years.


Wintering is not a problem. The hawthorn is extremely hardy and has no problems with cold, ice and snow.


Propagation works in different ways, by seeds, by cuttings, by grafting and hawthorn can be propagated by cuttings, which is the most common type. In doing research, I found that cuttings and cuttings don’t work that well. But sowing succeeds reliably.

  • Propagation of cuttings – in spring cut a 4 to 8 cm long piece of this year’s wood above a knot. The cutting must have at least one leaf and one bud. Plant 1/3 of the cuttings. Keep moist, preferably cover with a bag. Don’t forget to ventilate
  • Timber cuttings – cut strong annual shoots in February (just under one eye), about 20 cm long and not too soft and not yet fully ripe. Put 2/3 to ¾ in the substrate. Keep warm and slightly moist
  • Finishing – is usually carried out by a specialist
  • Pure species can be propagated by sowing.
  • The seeds are cold germs.
  • If fruits are left in the garden, many small seedlings will often sprout in spring.

Diseases and pests

The hawthorn is related to many fruit trees. That is why it also harbors fruit pests.

  • Powdery mildew – milky coating – work rock flour into the soil as a preventive measure (once a year), use fungicide in the event of an infestation
  • Scab (fungal disease) – can be recognized by brownish spots and cracks on the leaves, flowers and fruits. Plants are weakened and often die. Preventive measures can be taken. The branches must not be too close. Cut off diseased parts and dispose of them with household waste. Sulfur can help.
  • Web moth – mainly attacks apple trees. The hawthorn serves as an alternative roost, relieves the fruit trees. To be combated by birds and parasitic wasps.
  • The same thing happens with codling moth, blood aphid, golden juicer and apple moth.
  • Hawthorn grid – pathogen is a rust fungus that overwinters on a juniper. It attacks the hawthorn anew every year. The fungus can be recognized by the thickening of the branches, on which brown, later yellow, spore beds appear in April. Whole branches can be colored orange. In addition, orange-red spots appear on the upper sides of the leaves from mid-May. Thicken leaf veins and petioles. Prevention – spatial separation of hawthorn and juniper. Check juniper regularly for infestation. Use agents to combat hawthorn, e.g. systemic agents or those with contact effects.
  • Fire blight

The hawthorn is a popular woody plant for the garden. It is particularly popular as a hedge plant. A free-growing hedge develops particularly beautifully without major pruning measures. However, this will be very broad. You have to have the space first. With me, half the garden would be gone . Otherwise, hawthorn is easy to care for. The only problem is with the fire blight. But it is not widespread everywhere. If you are planning to plant a hawthorn or a hawthorn, you should inquire whether you live in such a risk area. Then it is not advisable. Otherwise you can plant this wood. After all, there are no guarantees for anything in life.

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