Hawthorn Hedging

Hawthorn Hedge Plants

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is the most widely used hedge plant in the UK. It has all the virtues you look for in hedging - it is fast growing (hence the name quickthorn), incredibly tough, happy in almost any soil, easy to clip and so dense that even in winter when it is leafless, a well-grown hawthorn hedge is hard to see through. Visually, it provides year-round interest. Masses of simple, white blossom contrast with its dark wood in spring. The glossy green foliage looks good all summer and is then followed in autumn by bunches of bright red haws. And when leaf and berry are gone, the black bark looks startling on a frosty day. Add to all that its qualities as a stock proof hedge and Hawthorn is an excellent choice. You can also take look at the rest of our range of hedging plants many of which can be added hawthorn for more variety. 

Hawthorn in Summary

  • Uses: Country and stockproof hedges from 100cms upwards
  • Good Points: Native, cheap, almost literally bomb-proof
  • Position: Anywhere there is drainage
  • Growth: 40-50cms p.a.

Planting and Caring for a Hawthorn Hedge

hawthorn hedges

Planting Hawthorn

The best planting advice we can give is contained in our film on How to Plant a Country Hedge. Although it was made with mixed hedging it applies equally to a hedge made just from Hawthorn. If you prefer the written word, then have a look at our Hedging Advice Section.

Just remember that tough though Hawthorn may be, a little bit of preparation plus watering immediately after plating and protection from rabbits (which adore young hedging) will help ensure your plants establish as quickly as possible. We always recommend Rootgrow when planting, especially in poorer soils as it really makes a difference to plant establishment. And it is important to keep weeds under control for the first 2- 3 years. Either spray them off before planting and again when there is no leaf on the hedge, or suppress them using organic mulches or Mypex.

If you want a stock proof hedge, plant in a double row at five plants per metre. if your hawthorn hedge is just for screening, then plant in a single row at three plants per metre. It will no longer stop a charging bull, but it will still be dense enough to keep out trespassers and prying eyes!

For the best display of flowers and haws, the trick is to clip your hedge every other year. This gives the plants a chance to produce flowering wood.

Kept clipped, your hedge should give you decades of service. However, if it is neglected, after 10-15 years, gaps can appear at the base. These can be dealt with by "laying" which will make your hedge as good as - or sometimes even better than - new.

Pruning Hawthorn Hedging

Young hawthorn plants are called "whips" for good reason. They are slim which makes them easier to plant and, if you have rabbits, the absence of side branches makes putting spirals on simple. However, pruning work is needed after planting for your hawthorn hedge to become bushy from as close to the ground as possible. So the first two "prunings" are easy but important. Get them right and it will be impenetrable.

Cut Hawthorn Hedge plants back after Planting

On planting (October-April) cut your hedging back by HALF. As in 50%. Do it on the day you plant them. Many planters cut young plants back a bit more - down 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" can produce as many as 5 (but more usually 3 or 4) new branches as a result.

And cut Hawthorn Hedges back again a year later

Assuming you planted between October and April, make the second cut the following winter, roughly a year later when the leaves have fallen. With secateurs or hedge trimmer, carefully cut all the NEW growth i.e. (that is no more than a year old) back by HALF. Yes, that really is 50% and it really applies to ALL the new growth made since the first cut. This will have the effect of causing each newly pruned 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 hedging whips that about a year and a half before had no side growths are now sturdy rounded bushes with about 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 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.

Buying Hawthorn Hedging

You can buy hawthorn plants (Crataegus monogyna) singly in a range of sizes. The more you buy, the cheaper they get per plant. Most economic however is to look at our packs of 50 plants which come in the two most popular sizes and are sufficient to plant 17 metres at three plants per metre or to give you 10 metres of stockproof hedge planted at 5 plants per metre in a double row.

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    • Sizes sold: 40-150 cm
    • Height: 1m to 6m
    • Soil: all soils
    • Use: Thorny Informal Native Hedging
    • Single Row: 3/m
    • Double row: 5/m
    • Very tough indeed
    From £0.90  Inc VAT

    Out of Stock - Ordering from mid-August 2020

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