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Winter Hawthorn

January 22, 2018

Host: Gary Bachman, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist


We all love trees with three season beauty, I'll describe a garden multi tasker today on Southern Gardening. 

Many of our ornamental trees tend to be one season wonders.  Spectacular spring flowers, or sizzling summer foliage, or fantastic fall color.  But one that has it all is the 'Winter King' hawthorn (Kra-Tee-Gus viridis). 

In mid spring the flowers are displayed in 2 inch wide clusters that blanket the tree.  Starting with buds with pink tinged edges, the petals and stamens are white with very pale yellow pistils. 

The fruit are up to 1/3" in diameter and are borne in clusters.  The clusters will turn color in Sept/Oct and are a good solid red-orange color.  The fruit will persist through the winter for color interest. 

The foliage is a medium green with a lustrous sheen in the summer.  The fall colors will include yellows, purples and scarlet with shades in between, including maroon.

Winter King is a slower growing tree, eventually reaching 30 ' tall and up to 25 to 30' wide.  The pyramidal shape makes it a good candidate to be used as focal point or specimen in the landscape.  The tree is very tolerant of pruning. 

It will perform best when planted in full sun in a good loamy soil having a 5.5 to 7.0 pH with good drainage. 

Winter King will be bothered by few pests.  What enhances this trees performance in the landscape is it's resistance to foliar rust.  Some years the fruits may be more susceptible depending on the weather. 

In winter, the bare gray trunk and stems of Winter King contrasted by the red-orange clusters of fruit can brighten any dreary landscape. 

I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening. 

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