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pruning hawthorn

Toronto, ON(Zone 5a)

I inherited a hawthorn tree, shaped into a standard, when I bought my house and I've continued to keep it pruned. It seems pretty happy but this spring, for the first time it flowered a bit. As I didn't even realize that it flowers, it must not be as happy as I thought :(

Looking up Hawthorns in the PlantFiles, it's something like an English Hawthorn from the photos of leaves and blossoms and from the fact that it doesn't have thorns. And, I find, not only does it blossom but it produces berries -- I'm definitely doing something wrong!

I'm guessing that I'm pruning at the wrong time? too much? I haven't really paid attention to timing up until now -- just given it a haircut as it needed one. It looks healthy and grows well otherwise. It gets morning and afternoon sun, but is overhung by a large maple so is shaded from the midday sun. My herb garden is planted around it, so the hawthorn gets a fair amount of attention by default.

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi fitsandstart, if you want flowers and berry's, then you are pruning all the growth off that will give you these, I suspect the flowers you have had this year, are on bits of wood you have missed from previous years, if you were to grow this as a hedge, then the time to prune is between July and March, you dont say how wide the actual green top is, but it should flower if it is not cut too severely, these have lovely flowers and smell, it looks a bit like cherry blossom, we call this mayflower in UK, so hope you have more luck next year, if you do encourage berries, then the birds will feed on them and will help keep your garden pests down better than chemicals,they will be eating bugs and snails etc while visiting your berry's, Good Luck, WeeNel.

Toronto, ON(Zone 5a)

Thanks WeeNel. The green top is about a 4' ball, and the trunk is about 8" in diameter. I've been pruning it fairly severely because it's easier to reach than the maple above it. But if I've been stunting it's potential, I'll find extra long-handled pruners to trim that pesky maple back!

You are a mine of information, and I greatly appreciate your help!

Windsor, ON(Zone 6a)

fitsandstarts, Hawthorn flower in spring, which that next years flowers will be on this year's growth. SO, don't prune that baby again until after its flowered next year. What type of maple do you have? If it is a silver maple, then I would definitely sacrifice it for the hawthorn. The hawthorn also gets an attractive berry and a nice fall colour if it gets enuf sunlight too. so I would leave the berries on it through winter to ad some colour to the landscape as well as bird food.

Toronto, ON(Zone 5a)

Don't prune now? The blossoms just finished. Now, as I think through this more, I'm confused. It flowers on old growth and then develops berries, presumably from the blossoms, that last into the winter which means that I shouldn't prune now... So wouldn't I prune early spring before the leaves start? But that wouldn't work if the blossoms develop on the previous years growth, would it?

It's a Manitoba Maple. it grows like the dickens and drops little branches and huge clumps of keys everywhere -- I'm constantly pulling sprouts out of my lawn, my gardens, between the patio pavers... anywhere there's a speck of soil! Otherwise it's a lovely tree, but some judicious pruning would not hurt it at all.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi fitsandstart, sorry about the confusion you have, the best way to sort this out is, if you want flowers AND winter berry's then you dont prune at all, unless a branch gets too big and is dangerous as they will develope thorns of some kind. IF you want to keep the tree shaped as a ball, then you wont get the flowers and winter berry's as this is a tree that blossoms and berry's by nature, and you are cutting it into an unnatural shape, so hope this helps you a wee bit as to how it grows as a tree and how it grows as a show/sculptured bush. Good Luck. WeeNel.

Toronto, ON(Zone 5a)

You mean I can't have my cake and eat it too? How big will it grow, do you think, if I don't prune?

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Fitsandstart, Weenel again, if you have an English Hawthorn, well I assume, one thats more common in UK, then this will eventually grow into a very large tree, but not in your lifetime I dont think, we grow them in mixed hedges for wildlife along with Hazels, Beach etc, I have some on our land and they are about 6/8 feet high, BUT, after many years, they all of a sudden seem to grow to there final hight and you are talking about 20feet, that is after maybe 20/30 years, you could let it grow some for a few years, then when you think it is getting too big, get some bits lopped off it to a more managable size, the time to do this would be in the very early spring, or, end of the summer autumn start, but you would loose some berries for that year, it is quite an open tree so you will always see through it, so maybe you could just cut yours into shape say every 4/5 years, accept for that year, you wont have the winter berries, and then enjoy it for another 5 years, good luck, hope this helps you. WeeNel.

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