Red tip photinia (Photinia x fraseri) is a tough yet attractive plant often used for bonsai, espalier, topiary, hedges, windbreaks, screens and as an ornamental, living fence. New leaves appear red or deep burgundy, then turn green as they grow until the lance-shaped leaves are red only on the tips. The plant can grow 15 feet tall and produces white clusters of flowers that give way to small, red fruits in the fall. Red tip photinias tolerate a wide range of growing conditions and can be planted almost any time of year in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 7 to 9.
Prepare for Success
Photinia is a rugged plant, but will recover more quickly from the shock of moving from its growing medium to its new, permanent spot in the yard if the planting site is properly prepared ahead of time. Choose a spot with well-drained soil with a pH of 3.7 to 7.3. Photinias will grow in sandy, loamy or clay soil, but need plenty of light and air circulation to thrive. Dig the planting hole and amend the soil if necessary before bringing the photinia to the site. Remove the photinia from its nursery container or unwrap the roots if the photinia comes balled and burlapped. Immediately plant the photinia in the prepared site and water thoroughly, adding more soil to the base of the plant if it settles after watering.
Photinias are hardy enough to profit from an autumn planting. Choose quality plants from a reputable nursery or garden centre. These photinia should have healthy, vigorous root systems that will readily recover from transplanting to the yard. Planting in the fall, even as late as November in warmer climates, gives photinia time to become firmly established before the harsh temperatures of winter descend. Photinia root systems can withstand soil temperatures of 7.22 degrees Celsius without damage. Water the shrub deeply after planting.
Spring is a good time to plant photinias. Just after the last frost of winter passes and the ground is at least 7.22 degrees Celsius and workable, photinias will settle in nicely in their prepared garden spot. The warm temperatures and spring rains encourage the plant to produce new growth as it becomes established in the garden. In warmer climates, plant well in advance of summer. Photinia can withstand heat and drought once it is established.
Red tip photinia is susceptible to a wide variety of diseases, especially in humid, wet regions, where leaf spot (Entomosporium maculatum) can decimate the plants. Photinias in drier regions often do not have this problem. Choose a red tip variety that has been bred to resist leaf spot.