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How to Prune a Paul's Scarlet Hawthorn Plant

Updated February 21, 2017

A native to Europe, the English hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) is a compact landscape tree. It reaches a maximum height of 20 feet with a spread no wider than 22 feet. Paul's Scarlet is a variety of the species that has been around since 1858. Hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5 to 8, it produces deep-red double flowers in late spring. Prune the Paul's Scarlet not only to control its height, but also to get rid of diseased, dead and broken wood, rejuvenating the plant.

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  1. Soak your loppers in a solution of 9 parts water and 1 part bleach for 20 minutes to disinfect the blades. Put gardening gloves on to protect your skin from the thorns.

  2. Remove water sprouts, thin upright stems that appear on branches, especially in areas where you trimmed off other twigs. Cut them flush with the tree limb as you notice them.

  3. Prune dead and broken stems as you notice them. Remove crisscrossed twigs and branches growing towards the centre of the tree. Make pruning cuts at a 45-degree angle, ¼ inch above a bud. The cuts should slant upward and away from the centre of the tree.

  4. Trim the tips of the branches using the technique described in Step 3 to control the height of the Paul's Scarlet. Perform this step any time between the end of blooming and late winter.

  5. Cut 1 to 2 feet into healthy tissue when removing a branch infected with fire blight. The disease gives stems the appearance of having been scorched at the tips. The leaves also turn brown and die, but they continue to cling to the limb. As the bacterial disease progresses, you also notice cankers on the wood.

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Things You'll Need

  • Loppers
  • Bucket
  • 9 parts water
  • 1 part bleach
  • Gardening gloves

About the Author

Emma Watkins writes on finance, fitness and gardening. Her articles and essays have appeared in "Writer's Digest," "The Writer," "From House to Home," "Big Apple Parent" and other online and print venues. Watkins holds a Master of Arts in psychology.

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