Hawthorn is the common name for shrubby or treelike plants of the Crataegus genus. These plants are deciduous and produce small drupe fruits after their simple flowers have been pollinated, usually by insects. In the wild, hawthorns reproduce through seeds or by suckering from the base of the plant.
Hawthorns are often propagated by semi-hardwood cuttings, or cuttings from branches that are still young but no longer green. The cuttings are rooted in well-drained, moist soil. They may take 10 weeks to root properly, according to the University of Florida IFAS extension. Some hawthorns produce suckers at the base of the plant, and these suckers often have small roots already forming. These cuttings establish quickly, since root cells are already present.
Hawthorns may be propagated by seed in Plant Hardiness Zones 3 to 7. Seeds germinate after time exposed to cold, or stratification. Hawthorn seeds are special in that they require double stratification, or two separate cold time periods interrupted by a short growing period. In nature, it takes hawthorn seeds several seasons to germinate. Seeds require light and are best germinated in a sunny area.
Hawthorns are a genus of hundreds of species, many of which are not useful to the home gardener. However, the less useful of the hawthorns often still have disease-resistant or especially successful rooting systems, and more ornamental hawthorns are often grafted onto these trunks. This is especially true of edible hawthorn species, whose berries are often used for preserves or medicines.
Given the length of time and difficulty inherent in propagating by cuttings, seeds or even grafting, hawthorns are often purchased as young plants and transplanted into the home garden. Transplanted hawthorns take only a season to begin establishing and may take less than a year to fully establish.
- Pacific Northwest Cooperative Extension; Propagating Deciduous and Evergreen Shrubs, Trees and Vines with Stem Cuttings; F. E. Larsen; July 1997
- Grow 'Em Plant Propagation Database; Hawthorn; 2011
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; Indian Hawthorn; Juanita Popenoe, PhD; June 2008
- "Collins Gem Food for Free: A Fantastic Feast of Plants and Folklore"; Richard Mabey; 2004