Photinia are a species of plants in the rosacea, or rose, family with origins in Asia. The plants are hardy but prefer sunlit locations and well-drained soil. Photinias are popular in the U.S. as shrubs, but they can reach large heights and can be planted as trees. There are several varieties of photinias available in the U.S.
Red Tip Photinia (Photinia X Fraseri)
Red Tip Photinia are the most common in the genus found in the U.S. and can grow up to 15 feet tall. The plant has oval, evergreen leaves that can grow up to 4 inches long. The new foliage is bright red, but the colour turns green after two to four weeks. The Red Tip Photinia flowers in spring and produces small white flowers that look nice but have an unpleasant smell. The flowers are replaced by red berries in summer. Red Tip Photinia are very susceptible to diseases and should not be grown as hedges with several plants adjoining each other to prevent the spread of fungus.
Japanese Photinia (Photinia Glabra)
The Japanese Photinia has long, oval evergreen leaves that grow up to 3.5 inches long. The plant can grow up to 12 feet tall. The new foliage is bronze coloured; like the Red Tip Photinia, the leaves turn green after approximately four weeks. In late spring, the plant produces small white flowers that appear in clusters and are smaller than the buds of the Red Tip Photinia, but they also have a foul smell. During summer, the flowers turn into black berries. As the Japanese Photinia can get blights easily, it should not be grown as part of a hedge to prevent the spread of diseases.
Chinese Photinia (Photinia Serrulata)
The Chinese Photinia can grow up to 30 feet tall. The plant has oblong, evergreen leaves with serrated edges. The individual leaves can grow up 8 inches long, and new foliage is light green or sometimes bronze coloured. In early spring, the Chinese Photinia grows clusters of small white flowers which have a repulsive smell. The flowers will last for two weeks and will be replaced by red berries. The plant is hardier towards disease and blights but should be grown in a sunny location to avoid mildew.
Oriental Photinia (Photinia Villosa)
The Oriental Photinia can grow up to 15 feet tall and has oval, serrated leaves that grow up to 3 inches long. New foliage is pale gold and turns green during summer. The plant produces small, bad-smelling white flowers that bloom in May and turn into red berries in October. The plant is susceptible to various diseases and should not be planted in hedges.