Photinias are large shrubs that grow well in the eastern portion of the United States. So well, in fact, they soon became one of the most popular hedge plants in the South. Unfortunately, with the overuse and close planting of red tipped photinia, disease wasn’t far behind and resulted in constant, yearly attacks by photinia fungus also known as photinia leaf spot. The red tips of new growth that made these shrubs so popular are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of the photinia bush diseases and over the years, photinia leaf spot has destroyed countless shrubs.
Red Tipped Photinia and Disease Symptoms
The main culprit among photinia bush diseases is Entomosporium mespili, the fungus that causes photinia leaf spot. Like most plant fungi, this one thrives in the cool, moist environment of the fall and spring and attacks the most vulnerable new growth that gives the shrub its name, red tipped photinia, and the disease spreads from there. The photinia fungus won’t kill the plant immediately or even during the first season, but will return year after year until the constant leaf drop and the depletion of nourishment that results weakens the plant to the point of death.
The first signs of photinia leaf spot are almost unnoticeable. Tiny, round red spots appear on leaf surfaces and because the leaf color of the new growth they attack, the darker red spots are easy to ignore.
In a matter of days, the spots enlarge and eventually become dark purplish circles surrounding gray, dying tissue. The photinia fungus usually spreads from new growth to old only because of the new leaves making it easier for the spores to take hold.
Once the fungus takes hold in the red tipped photinia, the disease’s circles continue to grow and merge until large unsightly “sores” cover the dying leaves. The production of spores can be seen in the black blotches inside the circular damage. At this point, there is nothing to be done to keep the disease from running its course.
Recognizing Life Cycles in Photinia Bush Diseases
The red tipped photinia disease follows a definite pattern or cycle and it is important to understand this cycle for the treatment of red tip photinia and disease eradication.
The fungal spores spend the winter in fallen, infected leaves or in late emerging new growth. These spores are released into the air in late winter or early spring where they land on any nearby photinia bush. Diseases like this one tend to spread from the bottom to the top of the infected plant because the spores can’t travel that far. This inability to move any great distance is also the reason photinia leaf spot may attack a shrub in one area of the yard while another area remains untouched.
During the rainy weather of spring, the spores continue to spread through water splashing from one leaf to the next until the entire shrub is infected.
Prevention and Treatment of Common Photinia Bush Disease
Is there anything that can be done about red tip photinia disease? Yes, but it’s a matter of prevention rather than cure.
First and foremost, rake up all fallen leaves, and if the shrub is already infected, remove all affected leaves and branches. Cover the area under and around the shrubs with new mulch to cover any leaf parts and photinia fungus spores that remain.
Do not repeatedly trim endangered shrubs to encourage the new red growth. Keep trimming and shearing confined to the dormant winter months and dispose of all clippings.
Consider replacing dead or dying shrubs with alternatives. A mixed hedge will be more resistant to photinia bush diseases if the susceptible shrubs are placed farther apart. Remember, the spores don’t travel very far. Stagger new plantings rather than creating the traditional wall of shrubs. This will increase light and airflow around the shrub and decrease the conditions in which the fungus thrives.
There are chemical treatments available. Chlorothalonil, propiconazole, and myclobutanil are the effective ingredients to look for in available fungicides. Be aware, however, treatment must begin early and be repeated every 7-14 days throughout late winter and spring and again in the fall when the weather cools.
Red tip photinia disease can be devastating, but with diligence and good garden housekeeping practices, the fungus can be driven from your yard.
I just planted three red tip photinias. I amended the soil with manure/humus and covered it with hardwood mulch. Also, there is something called Petite Rouge photinia. Is this different from Fraseri photinia-I know it is smaller?
Petite Rouge Photinia is the most compact photinia and is ideal for small spaces or mass plantings. Fraser Photinia typically grows 12-18 feet high and 8-12 feet wide, much bigger variety. This article will help you with the shrub's care: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/photinia/growing-red-tip-photinia.htm
Most Popular Topics
- Plant Recommendations
- Hibiscus Plants
- Tomato Plants
- Fig Tree
- Gardenia Plants
- Crape Myrtle Trees
- Peach Trees
- Lemon Trees
- Hydrangea Plants
- Sago Palm Trees
- Insect Pest Control
- Wisteria Vines
- Holly Bushes
- Calla Lily Plants
- Yucca Plants
- Zucchini Plants
- Lilac Bushes
- Lawn Problems
The plants are too tall to spray.
Monterey Garden Phos Systemic Fungicide is labeled to treat Red Tip Photinia and other ornamental plants, but it is not labeled to control Entomosporium, which is the usually the cause of leaf spot on photinia. For diseases listed on the product label, you can do soil drench applications: apply 1/8 tsp. per gallon of water and apply each 25 gallons of solution to an area of 100 sq. ft. Follow application with irrigation. Repeat as required. Limit of one application per month.
If you have entomosporium leaf spot, then we recommend Fung-Onil Fungicide Concentrate instead. This should be applied as a topical spray. Be sure you are incorporating good sanitation practices as well, including cleaning up leaf litter, thinning out branches as needed to reduce moisture retention, and removing heavily infested plants. Do not plant infested photinia in your landscape. Be sure to clean pruning equipment after each use to avoid spreading diseases.
- Place your cuttings directly into potting soil while keeping the soil moist to help develop roots.
- Put the cuttings into a perlite and vermiculite mix in a ziplock bag and place it in direct sun.
- You can also put the cuttings in the water and place them on a sunny window sill.
Once your cutting is starting to develop roots or have new leaves, plant the new plants in a pot and allow it to develop strong roots. Once it's more established, you will be able to plant it in an area that gets plenty of light and air circulation.
Because it is a hybrid plant and won’t grow true to seed, the best way to propagate red tip photinia is via stem cuttings.
This will provide you with a clone of the original plant, with identical characteristics. You can also purchase a transplant from a nursery.
To propagate a new plant from a cutting, you will need to save a piece that has at least three leaf nodes.
While there are several ways you can propagate photinia from cuttings, it is easiest to do this by taking semi-hardwood cuttings in midsummer, ideally from stems that have just started to mature.
Healthy cuttings may be saved when you do your pruning, if you like.
You should take a six- to eight-inch cutting from an area of new growth, generally at a point where the stem has just started to harden and mature. Remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting.
Fill a pot with a mixture of vermiculite and perlite, and water thoroughly. A container that’s around six inches in diameter is perfect for planting one or two cuttings.
Before planting, dip the cut end into rooting hormone powder, and tap it to remove any excess before you place the cutting at a depth of approximately two to four inches.
If you plant multiple cuttings, make sure they do not touch.
Let it root indoors or in a protected location that receives indirect sunlight. Keep the porous medium moist at all times, to help the roots develop.
It can take as little as a month or as long as 20 weeks to produce new growth. Once this new growth appears, you can check whether your cuttings have rooted by gently tugging on the stem.
If you feel resistance, your new plant is ready to be transplanted, as described below.
Your rooted photinia cuttings can be transplanted in the late summer or early spring in a location that is partially shaded or sunny and well-draining.
You can also purchase a transplant from a nursery. Whether you’re planting a photinia that you grew from a cutting yourself or planting a potted specimen that you purchased, there are several recommendations you should follow.
In a location that receives full sun to partial shade, dig a hole twice as deep and twice as wide as your potted plant (usually at least 12 inches deep and wide).
Backfill halfway, adding some organic matter such as compost or leaf mold. Then, remove the shrub from its container, place it in the hole, and backfill with soil.
Make sure the top of the soil of the potted plant is at ground level, adding or removing soil as needed. Continue backfilling and water well after you have finished.
If you are growing multiple plants to create a hedge, you should space them about five feet apart. In shady locations or when a hedge form is not desired, more space is preferred to promote good airflow and help prevent fungal infections.
Red tip photinia is susceptible to fungal diseases when conditions are wet and humid. Entomosporium fungus is a particular threat. This disease appears as red spots across the leaf surface. If it is not controlled, it can overtake the plant and cause many of the leaves to drop, sometimes killing the plant. You can help affected plants recover by keeping the leaves dry and removing diseased foliage.
Powdery mildew and fireblight are also potential problems. And root rot is possible if the soil is too wet. You also might see leaf scorch, crown gall, and gray mold. Insects that you might find on this shrub include caterpillars, European fruit-tip moth, mites, and scale.