A Guide to Growing Photinia: Achieving Vibrant Foliage in Your Garden

Unravel the Secrets of Successfully Planting, Growing, and Caring for Photinia Shrubs

Photinia, an evergreen shrub known for its vibrant red foliage, has become a popular choice for hedging and as a standalone garden feature. With over 60 species in the Photinia genus, these plants offer a range of sizes, leaf shapes, and colors to suit various garden styles. This article will guide you through the process of growing photinia, from planting and caring for the shrub to addressing common issues.

Selecting the Right Photinia Variety

Choosing the appropriate photinia variety for your garden is essential to ensure the plant thrives in your specific environment. Some popular varieties include:

Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin'

This hybrid is prized for its bright red new growth, which matures to dark green. It typically grows to a height of 10-15 feet, making it an ideal choice for hedging or as a specimen plant.

Photinia serratifolia 'Pink Crispy'

This variety features stunning pink-tinged foliage with a unique, crispy texture. It has a moderate growth rate and reaches a height of 6-8 feet.

Photinia davidiana

Known for its striking bronze-red foliage and white flowers, this species has a more compact growth habit, reaching a height of 4-6 feet.

Planting Photinia

  1. Choose the right location: Photinia thrives in full sun or partial shade. Planting in full sun will encourage more vibrant red foliage. Ensure the location has well-draining soil, as photinia is sensitive to waterlogged conditions.
  2. Space the plants appropriately: If planting photinia as a hedge, space the plants 2-3 feet apart for a dense screen. For specimen planting, allow for a minimum of 6 feet between plants to accommodate their mature size.
  3. Prepare the planting site: Dig a hole twice the width and depth of the root ball. Loosen the soil at the bottom and sides of the hole, and amend it with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve drainage and fertility.
  4. Plant the photinia: Gently remove the shrub from its container, taking care not to damage the roots. Place the plant in the hole, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with the surrounding soil. Backfill the hole with the amended soil, gently firming it down to eliminate air pockets. Water thoroughly to settle the soil.

Caring for Photinia

  1. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, during the first growing season to help the plant establish a strong root system. Once established, photinia is relatively drought-tolerant but will benefit from regular watering during dry periods.
  2. Fertilising: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertiliser in early spring to encourage healthy growth. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application rates and frequencies.
  3. Pruning: To maintain the desired size and shape, prune photinia in late winter or early spring, before new growth emerges. Remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches, and trim back the tips of the remaining branches to encourage bushy growth and vibrant red foliage.
  4. Mulching: Apply a 2-3 inch layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, around the base of the plant to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the trunk to avoid rot and pest issues.

Addressing Common Photinia Issues

  1. Leaf spot: Photinia is susceptible to a fungal disease called Entomosporium leaf spot, which causes red or brown spots on the leaves, leading to defoliation. To prevent and manage this disease, ensure proper air circulation by spacing plants appropriately and pruning regularly. Remove and dispose of affected leaves, and apply a fungicide as needed.
  1. Root rot: Over-watering or poorly-draining soil can lead to root rot in photinia plants. To avoid this issue, ensure the planting location has well-draining soil and avoid over-watering. If you notice signs of root rot, such as yellowing leaves, wilting, or a foul smell near the base of the plant, remove and dispose of the affected plant to prevent the disease from spreading.
  2. Pests: Photinia can occasionally be affected by pests such as aphids, scale insects, or spider mites. Monitor your plants regularly for signs of infestation, and treat with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil as needed.
  3. Frost damage: Some photinia varieties, particularly Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin', are susceptible to frost damage. In regions with harsh winters or frost-prone areas, protect young plants by wrapping them with horticultural fleece or planting them in a sheltered location.


Growing photinia can be a rewarding experience, as these striking evergreen shrubs provide year-round interest with their vibrant foliage and, in some cases, delicate flowers. By selecting the right variety, planting in an appropriate location, and providing proper care, you can enjoy the beauty of photinia in your garden for many years. Armed with the knowledge and tips provided in this article, you'll be well-equipped to cultivate thriving photinia plants and create an eye-catching display in your landscape.