Hawthorns are large shrubs or small trees that develop bright red fruit during the winter months. The lack of leaves during this time gives the tree a striking appearance that sets it apart from the surrounding landscape. The best time to trim hawthorn bushes is in the summer so as not to remove next year’s buds. Depending on the variety of hawthorn, precautions should be taken to protect yourself from the sharp thorns.
Wait until the hawthorn bush stops blooming in the summer, which typically occurs in June or July in most areas of the country.
Put on long sleeves, pants and thick gardening gloves before attempting to prune the hawthorn bush. If you have a thornless variety, special attire is not required.
Look for any stems that are broken or that are black or rust colored, which indicates disease. Prune these limbs off near the base of the hawthorn bush using loppers for stems less than 2 inches in diameter. Prune off larger limbs using a pruning saw.
Stand back and look at the plant to identify one of the longest stems. Prune off this stem near the base of the plant using loppers or the pruning saw. This opens up the bush and encourages additional bud development in the spring.
Prune off an additional 1/3 of the oldest and longest stems from the bush using the same method.
Cut back the tips of any stems that are hanging over into pedestrian walkways or other undesirable areas. Trace the tip back to where you want to trim it and locate a bud that faces the outside of the bush. Prune off the tip 1/4 inch above the bud and angle the cut toward the inside of the bush.