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11 July 2013

Photinia Tips

Photinia is an evergreen shrub which is grown mainly for its attractive red and green foliage - the red being provided by the young shoots - though it also has white flowers. It is mainly used as a specimen shrub though it can be grown as a small tree, and is very useful as a quick-growing hedge. It is best not to plant very vigorous shrubs in front of your photinia hedge as these will compete for nutrients and water. Photinias can also be grown in containers, up to quite a large size, but will need regular feeding with Vitax Q4 or similar.

The most common of the photinias is Photinia × fraseri ‘Red Robin’ but other popular varieties include Villosa AGM and Davidiana 'Palette'. There is also a Little Red Robin which is a more compact version of Red Robin.

Photinia will grow in most soils, but they don't like heavy clay, and this would need to be improved with well-rotted compost or manure and grit. However Photinia beauverdiana and P. villosa need neutral to acid soil conditions so avoid planting them in chalky soil.

They prefer to grow in a sheltered position and may otherwise suffer leaf-scorch damage. I have had a few in my garden but the one that has thrived is in the most sheltered spot. They are happy in sun or partial shade.

Photinias don't need a lot of pruning but a trim in spring and summer will help the plant to keep it's shape. Trimming after mid-August is best avoided as any new growth might be damaged by autumn frosts. Slow-growing varieties such as P. davidiana ‘Palette’ need little pruning.

If you are growing a ‘Red Robin’ hedge, removing the tips of young shoots will encourage bright red re-growth. This can be done up to three times a year.
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If your photinias become overgrown you can try cutting them back hard to form a low framework and then thinning out excess shoots as they grow back.

Photinias are best propogated by taking softwood cuttings in early summer or by means of semi-ripe cuttings taken in summer and autumn. Some species can also be grown from seed.

I hope you are successful with your photinias, whether grown in the garden or container.

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