There are few hedge plants that provide as much impact as the multi-coloured Photinia. Let’s find out more about this stunning shrub!
- Genus: Photinia
- Most common variety: Photinia ‘Red Robin’ (photinia x fraseri ‘red robin’)
- Other popular varieties: Pink Crispy (photinia serratifolia ‘pink crispy’) , Pink Marble (photinia x fraseri ‘Marble’)
Originating in Southeast Asia, Photinia is a hardy shrub that can grow to 3m in height. It is hugely popular in domestic gardening thanks to its robust response to pruning, its low maintenance and its colourful foliage. It has glossy leaves; some varieties have toothed leaves, others are smooth at the edges.
This is where this particular shrub comes into its own. New leaves are bright red, and while they fade over time to a deep, glossy green, pruning of new shoots in June/July can cause a second wave of growth that lasts the rest of the Summer.
Notably, the Pink Crispy variety takes the colour to a new level with its vibrant pink tips, which fade to red and then green.
Photinia produces white flowers in late Spring/early summer (April to June in the UK) however if you prune the plant to encourage new red foliage you reduce the likelihood of flowering.
Photinia produces small orange-red berries that are a pleasure for birds but are mildly poisonous to most other species.
Most varieties are quite fast growing and need keeping in check on an annual basis. The plant responds well to pruning and if you are keeping a shaped hedge, you can prune in Spring and Summer. Removing the tips of new plant shoots will encourage the red leaves to thrive.
The Palette variety is competitively slow-growing and needs much less pruning than its cousins.
Take softwood cuttings in early Summer, remove the leaves nearest to the cut and plant into pots in August, overwintering in a sheltered position. Once the frosts have passed in the Spring, plant into well prepared soil.
How to Plant Photinia
Shelter is important when establishing new plants as they enjoy the warmth far more than the cold. Choose your plant placement wisely and you will be rewarded for years.
- While you prepare your trench, soak the roots of your new plant in water, to let the plant realise that good times are coming!
- Take note of the depth they were already planted in the soil, as you’ll replant them to the same level.
- Dig your trench and add plenty of well rotted manure to provide nutrition for them to get stuck into.
- Space the plants 1 to 2 metres apart to give them room to fill out nicely.
- Water them well and give them some encouraging words while you’re at it.
Photinia can suffer from leaf spot but this is often an indication of stress caused by colder windier weather, and recovery can naturally occur over the seasons.
In general, however, the plant is not troubled by pests any more than other plants, and diligent attention can suppress pest infestations before they take hold.
Fun Facts About Photinia
- It is such a good plant that it has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit.
- It is part of the Rose family.
- It is also known as Christmas Berry, however this is a misleading nickname for a plant with slightly poisonous fruits.
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