Photinia stand out with their scarlet and red-colored leaves.
Photinia facts to know
Name – Photinia x fraseri
Family – Rosaceae
Height – 3 to 10 feet (1 to 3 m)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary
Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – spring
Planting, pruning and caring for them are steps that help enhance blooming and growth of your Photinia.
Photinia love sun, are hardy (down to 5°F (-15°C)) but also need a lot of water, especially in summer when it is hot and dry.
- Photinia love sunny or very lightly shaded places.
- They adapt to most types of soil, except for chalky soil which they don’t like.
Planting in fall
It is the best season to plant. Photinia are best planted in fall to promote root development.
The best time is November; however, you can plant as early as September and as late as December. Just make sure you’re avoiding freezing days.
Avoid planting during the rest of winter.
Planting in spring and summer
Photinia can be planted in spring and even in summer if purchased in pots.
In that case, water regularly because the shrubs’ needs are higher when not in fall and winter.
- Avoid planting during heat waves.
- Mulch the base of your Photinia to keep the soil moist as long as possible.
- Follow our advice on planting shrubs to ensure proper development
It is possible to propagate your own Photinia through cuttings in summer.
- Collect stems that are 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) long.
- Remove lower pairs of leaves, keeping only the topmost one or two pairs.
- It is possible to dip the cuttings in powdered rooting agents.
- Plant cuttings in special cutting soil mix.
- Put the Photinia cuttings near light, but not in direct sunlight.
- Keep substrate a little moist.
- Ensure that the cuttings can’t freeze in winter.
- Transplant to a slightly larger pot in the following spring.
The most famous variety is Photinia ‘Red Robin’.
Pruning and caring for Photinia
Photinia are easy shrubs to care for, especially when well settled in.
Pruning Photinia is recommended twice a year.
Once is after spring blooming and then again after fall growth so that the shrub can be balanced or its size reduced.
It is also possible to prune ‘Red Robin’ Photinia at the end of winter. Pruning at this particular time will spur the growing of red leaves, but it may impair blooming.
Photinia can be shaped freely. You might see some shaped into as cones, balls, or columns…
- First, thin older branches to stimulate growth of new shoots, and clear the center so that light can reach it.
- The more you prune it, the faster it grows.
- Frequent and drastic pruning will favor growth and make red leaves appear.
- Read also: how to prune shrubs
Note: Photinia will keep growing if not pruned. It can reach heights of up to 20 feet (6 meters). In this respect, it’s similar to cherry laurel.
To grow a magnificent ‘Red Robin’ Photinia
Adding all-purpose fertilizer in spring will boost growth and make the leafage magnificent.
Diseases, pests, and problems with Photinia
Although Photinia is very resilient and won’t often get diseased, sometimes the following may occur.
Photinia not blooming
- Pruning was performed at the end of winter, before the blooming – in this case, trimming has cut off flower buds. Try to prune and trim your photinia after the blooming in spring. If you need to prune a second time to keep the shrub small and tidy, do it in fall before winter .
- Exposure and lack of sunlight – a photinia shrub that is mostly growing in shade won’t bear many flowers, sometimes to the point of not bearing any at all. If under the shade of a taller tree, try thinning the branches of the tree out. This ensures light reaches the photinia shrub.
Black spots on photinia leaves
- Photinia is one of the shrubs that may be hit with black spot disease.
- Read more on photinia black spot disease
Photinia leaves curling and blistering
- In rare instances, your Photinia may have contracted leaf curl.
- Treat leaf curl on Photinia just as you would treat peach leaf curl.
Learn more about Photinia
Developed in New Zealand, they were introduced to the West around 25 years ago.
The red-leaved shrub often appears as ornamental shrubs, in beds and in hedges. However, you can also plant it as a standalone.
Their main feature is that leaves are consistently of two colors: deep red for young leaves that slowly turn green as they mature.
They make your hedges and shrub beds stand out with that touch of color.
Abundant leaves quickly make the shrub opaque, which makes it one of the most commonly planted evergreen shrubs in hedges.
This magnificent shrub fits perfectly into any hedge and combines very will with many other species.
Smart tip about Photinia
Photinia flowers are a great source of nectar and pollen for bees, plant one as a standalone to attract beneficial insects to your garden! Be careful to only prune your photinia after it flowers, in Spring.
Read also on shrubs
- Setting up a flowered hedge
- Setting up an evergreen hedge
- What if your hedge helped protect the environment?
- The best time to trim hedges
- Information and advice on pruning shrubs
Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Blooming photinia by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Cuttings from Photinia by Leonora Enking ★ under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Photinia covered in massive blooms by Rosalyn & Gaspard Lorthiois, own work
Shaded photinia hedge by Michael Coghlan ★ under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Properly exposed photinia by Julia Casado ★ under Pixabay license