Hawthorn Hedge Plants - Pruning & Trimming

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Hedge Advice 5. Trimming Hedges

Free Advice Written By Gardeners For Gardeners

You can buy hawthorn hedging plants from our nursery in 4 sizes.
You can also buy the 2 most popular sizes more cheaply in bundles of 50 hawthorn whips & bushes.
Browse all of our Hawthorn hedging & ornamental trees here.

Hawthorn - before planting

A young hawthorn plant is called a "whip" for good reason. It is long, slim and generally as no side branches at all. We grow our hawthorn like this because they are easier plant, and if you have rabbits (which most of us do) the absence of side branches makes putting a spiral guard on to a hawthorn whip much easier. Once planted however, pruning work is needed for your hawthorn hedge to become bushy from as close to the ground as possible. The first two pruning cuts are easy but enormously important in achieving this. Get them right and you can produce a hawthorn hedge that is so thick it is almost impossible to see through even when it has no leaves, in winter.

Hawthorn Hedging - after Planting

On planting (October-March) cut back your precious hawthorn whips by AT LEAST HALF. Yes that is 50%, and you can do it on the day you plant them. A lot of planters cut newly planted hawthorn back even more - to 6" (15 cms) with great success. This is a bit like pruning a rose; dormant buds below the cut put out new growth in spring. Each little stump of Hawthorn can produce as many as 5 (but more usually 3 or 4) new branches as a result of this first cut. Be brave - make the cut and then sit back and watch your hedge grow.

Hawthorn Hedging - after Planting

Watch your new hawthorn hedge grow until the following winter, that is. Assuming you planted between November and March, you will make the second cut roughly 9-14 months later in the December following planting. When the leaves have fallen off your young Hawthorn bushes, sharpen your secateurs or hedge trimmer and carefully cut ALL THE NEW GROWTH BACK BY HALF. Yes that really is 50% and it really applies to all the new growth made since the first cut. In other words reduce all new side and top branches of the hawthorn hedge by half. This will have the effect of causing each newly pruned hawthorn BRANCH to put out 3-5 new growths the following March.

Hawthorn - Trimming in later years

As a result of the first two cuts, the hawthorn whips that about a year and a half before had no side growths now have between 9 and 15 branches each. Over the following years these will lengthen and thicken and you will not have to make savage cuts like the first two again. Trim the sides of your hawthorn hedge when they look ragged in autumn and keep the tops reasonably level at the same time. Try to clip your hawthorn hedge to a tapered shape - all hedges whether native or formal should be wider at the bottom than at the top to let light get to the lower branches and keep them leafy.

You can buy hawthorn hedging plants from our nursery in 4 sizes.
You can also buy the 2 most popular sizes more cheaply in bundles of 50 hawthorn whips & bushes.
Browse all of our Hawthorn hedging & ornamental trees here.

Browse all of our other Hedging Plants here.

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