Edible PlantsFruits

How To Grow Mayhaw?

mayhaw

Mayhaw is the fruit that grows on the Crataegus series aestivalis, a small shrub or tree that can grow in river bottoms or bayous in moist soil and is usually found under bigger hardwood trees.

The fruit is commonly found in wetlands throughout the southern United States. Because the fruit is used to make jelly, it is usually collected from the bayous and river bottoms with boats.

The fruit’s natural habitat has been increasingly destroyed over the years, so people have started cultivating it on drier land to keep up the jelly-making tradition. Many places believe the fruit to be a delicacy, so they hold festivals with its name in May or April.

The berry is also used to make candy, syrup, wine, and even sauces for meat. The fruit ripens fully in April through May; that’s also where the name may-haw comes from. Mayhaw fruit tastes fruity and very tart, which is why it is usually made into jelly to bring out its sweeter qualities.

mayhaw branch
Mayhaw branch with fruit

The appearance of the berry resembles cranberries or crabapples. You can eat the berry straight off the tree if you favor the tart taste. Mayhaw also goes by the names Apple Hawthorn or Thornapples. The shrub itself can reach a height of 25 to 30 feet (7.6-9.1m).

Mayhaw can live up to an impressive age, with some being as old as 400 years. The plant can produce fruit for more than 50 years. The leaves of the shrub can be described as deeply toothed, with narrow tips and a broader base.

The leaves do tend to change color throughout the year, from green to yellow. The branch of the shrub does have thorns. This plant also flowers from late February to March, with five petals that are pink. The blooms can smell fresh and sweet, but they can also have an unpleasant smell when they start to wilt.

Varieties

Spectacular: This variety has one-inch (2.5cm) cm)-sized berries and will need pollinators; it is also fire-blight resistant.

Maxine: This variety has red fruit and is a heavy producer. It is also very resistant to fire blight.

Big Red: This variety has bigger berries that are of great quality and bright red. This variety is, however, a late-blooming cultivar.

Lori: This variety has elongated, oval-shaped berries that are colored red.

Texas Star: This variety is a bit larger than the original and has fruit with yellow pulp. Texas Star is not fire-blight-resistant.

Red Champ: This variety has one-inch (2.5cm) cm)-sized berries that are dark red. The Champ is very productive and fire-blight-resistant.

How To Grow?

You can grow the Mayhaw outside in USDA Hardiness zones eight through ten. Choose a variety of Mayhaw according to the temperature of the place you are living and the hardiness of the plant.

Many hardy varieties of the shrub have survived temperatures as low as -25°F (-32°C). Usually, the mayhaw is cold hardy down to 15°F (-9°C). When you are deciding where to grow Mayhaw, we suggest choosing a flooded area near a creek or ponds of water.

mayhaw berries
Mayhaw berries

Light

This plant will need eight hours of full sun per day to thrive and produce healthy fruit. They will tolerate partial shade; this may, however, alter their fruit production.

Although the shrub thrives in full sun, it is also sensitive to heat. Keep an eye on your plant to spot any wilting, drooping, or crisp leaves so you can act accordingly and change the amount of sun the plant is getting.

Watering

If the shrub is planted outside and gets regular rainfall, you might not need to water it at all. Young shrubs will need one to two inches (2.5 – 5 cm) of water a week. Older plants will be able to survive on rainfall alone. However, if there has been no rain for three weeks, you will need to water the plant yourself.

When watering, choose the coolest part of the day to do so so the plant won’t suffer from heat damage. The shrub can, to an extent, tolerate drought, but it is best to avoid it as this may damage berry production.

Soil and Fertilizer

The Mayhaw prefers slightly acidic soil, meaning a pH level between 6 and 6.5, loamy soil, and moisture-retentive soil. This shrub isn’t that picky with its soil, as it can get by with many different types of soil that other berry trees cannot tolerate.

When first planting the shrub, it is suggested you feed the plant with a slow-release fertilizer, about a teaspoon’s worth, and add a little bit of root stimulator. When the plant has been growing for about a year, you can feed it some more slow-release fertilizer in February, March, and May.

Once the tree is a bit older, you can fertilize it with one pound of slow-release fertilizer once in early March and again in late August. If the plant is experiencing drought conditions, do not add fertilizer, as this can cause burning for the roots.

Once the shrub is older than four years, you will only need to feed it slow-release fertilizer once a year. To fertilize, apply the feed around the tree evenly, making sure not to put it any closer than 10 inches (25cm) from the tree.

Pruning

Pruning should be done in late winter to open up the canopy and ensure better fruit growth. You will need to periodically trim new growth at the base of the trunk and clean up any formed weeds at the base.

Make sure to clean up any debris under your tree as well. To have easier access when harvesting, you can remove any branches lower than four or five feet (1.2–1.5 m).

Propagation

The easiest way to propagate your Mayhaw shrub is by using hardwood cuttings.

  1. Use clean and sharp tools.
  2. Remove a healthy stem from the shrub.
  3. Make sure the stem is at least four or six inches (10–15 cm) long.
  4. You can tip the cutting in growth hormone;
  5. Prepare a small pot filled with well-draining soil;
  6. Moisten the soil before planting the cutting.
  7. Plant the cutting into the said pot with prepared soil;
  8. Make sure the soil isn’t overly wet but just moist.
  9. Place the pot with the cutting somewhere it can get enough sun.
  10. Make sure to keep the soil moist.

New roots should form in about four or six weeks.

Repotting

Repotting should be done in the late winter or early spring. Repot the shrub into a slightly larger pot prepared with fresh, well-drained soil. Mayhaw will need to be repotted when the plant has become rootbound.

You can check this by looking at the pots’ drainage holes; if the roots of the shrub are crawling out of them, it is time to repot.

Diseases

Diseases you may come across while growing this plant include brown rot, cedar quince, cedar apple rust, and fire blight. To prevent these diseases, treat the tree with a broad-spectrum fungicide when the shrub is in bloom. Mostly, such infections take place in the spring.

Keep an eye on your plant for early detection of the disease and easy treatment. Use fungicides according to their instructions. You can also repot the plant in fresh soil in a new pot and remove any diseased parts of the plant.

Pests

Pests you may come across while growing the Mayhaw include aphids, white flies, plum curculio, flat-headed apple borer, and foliage feeders. To protect your plant from these pests, you may need to use insecticide periodically according to its instructions.

Using insecticides can help prevent any serious damage to the tree. Keep an eye on your plant for early discovery and easy removal.

Easy Jelly Recipe

The Mayhaw is mostly gathered to make jelly from it, as its tart taste doesn’t make it that desirable to eat by hand. The easiest way to make jelly from these berries is by using mayhaw berry juice.

To make the juice, pick, and wash ripe Mayhaw berries, then crush the berries and add water, making sure to cover the berries entirely in water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for about ten minutes. Let the juice cool, and extract the juice by pouring it through a sifter.

Measure about four cups (920g) of Mayhaw juice and put it in a large saucepan. Bring the juice to a boil and add one pack of pectin while stirring well. Bring back to a boil again, and when the boiling can’t be stirred down, add five cups (1000g) of sugar while stirring.

Prepare sterile and hot jars with warm lids. Remove the saucepan from the heat and skim off any foam on top. Pour the jelly into the prepared jars, leaving one-fourth inch (0.6cm) empty from the top. Seal the jars and process them for five minutes in a boiling water bath. After five minutes, you have successfully made yourself your very own Mayhaw jelly.

Conclusion

The Mayhaw is easy to grow if the plant gets the required water and sun. The shrub will give you berries and beautiful blooms if cared for correctly. You can use the berries to make a multitude of things, like juices, jellies, sauces, and even wine. This shrub is a worthy plant to grow and will reward its owners for over fifty years with red Mayhaw berries.

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