Indian Hawthorn – Leaves Brown and Crisp

Q: I am seeing large groupings of dead Indian hawthorns near where I work. The leaves are light brown and crisp to the touch.

A: Indian hawthorn is another plant that has confounded me with its behavior after January’s severe cold. Like you, I’ve seen large plantings that were wiped out. But I have also seen Indian hawthorn shrubs that were completely unfazed. My best guess is that a combination of microclimate conditions, species/variety, and health before the freeze caused the wide variability. Frankly, I think the winter-killed shrubs should be replaced with yedda hawthorn, Rhaphiolepis umbellata, which originated in the colder parts of Japan and Korea. Avoid Rhaphiolepis indica shrubs, which I suspect are less cold-tolerant.