Q: We have an Indian hawthorn that produces beautiful clumps of pink flowers, but it is a very thin/spindly plant with growth only at the tips and lots of bare branches. No one seems to be able to answer one question: Is it ok to prune an Indian Hawthorne back as I do with other shrubs, which have responded by growing gorgeously thick? We’re just a little outside of Leon County up here in Bainbridge, Ga.
A: Yes, you can prune an Indian hawthorn if it needs it. A member of the Rose family, Indian hawthorn rarely needs pruning when healthy and properly sited. Leaves and flowers are clustered on the tips of branches, but the plant should appear full.
Although it will grow in partial or high shade, it does best in full sun. It sounds as though your plant might not get enough sun where it is. Plants tend to be more compact and more full if grown in sunny locations.
Go ahead and cut it back once it has finished blooming. You can either prune it, cutting back individual branches, or you can shear it.
However, be aware that Indian hawthorn can sometimes be infected with fire blight, which causes twig dieback. Just in case there is fire blight present, dip your pruners in a 10 percent bleach solution after each cut to avoid spreading it, and then bag and dispose of the cuttings. Better to be safe than sorry.
Q: Does your advice about waiting to fertilize lawns until the soil has warmed also pertain to sod? I had new sod put down about 3-4 weeks ago and while it does have some green shoots they comprise only about 25-30 percent of the lawn. My lawn looks brown compared to neighboring lawns.
A: Yes, it does. The soil is no warmer for freshly laid sod than for an existing lawn. New sod needs to “peg down” and get roots into the soil to establish itself. It’s more important that you water your soil frequently for the first few weeks than to fertilize it.