Red tip photinia [foh-TIN-nee-uh] is a hybrid photinia from the family Rosaceae developed by crossing Photinia glabra and Photinia serratifolia – the popular Japanese and Chinese photinia species respectively.
Red Tip is an evergreen shrub or small tree known for its colorful foliage.
The plant’s name also refers to its striking red-colored glossy leaves – photinia means light or shining.
It is sometimes also referred to as Fraser’s photinia.
The scientific name of the plant, which is seldom used, is Photinia x fraseri.
Bright Red Tip Photinia Care
Size & Growth
Most red photinia plants grow as large shrubs, reaching up to 6′ to 10′ feet in height, but some cultivars can grow as trees, growing as high as up to 20′ feet tall.
The plant will spread 8’ to 12’ feet.
But, the size of the plant is not the most prominent feature of this plant.
The distinguishing feature of the plant, which makes it stand out of all other photinia species, is the striking red color.
The color comes from the young leaves, which start to turn green after a few weeks and eventually get dark green as they get mature.
Flowering and Fragrance
Red tip photinia plants also produce small white flowers in abundance, in spring.
But, they have an unpleasant odor, which is why most people prune the plant’s stems before the beginning of the blooming period.
If the plant isn’t pruned and allowed to bloom, it will produce small red fruits after flowering.
Light & Temperature
Red tip photinia shrub grows best in full sun but can tolerate partial shade.
In fact, it appreciates some shade when the weather is too hot.
Full or dense shade, however, can make the plant prone to developing fungal diseases.
It also prefers a location with air circulation.
The plant is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 7 to 9.
Watering and Feeding
This photinia species doesn’t require too much water and is fairly drought-tolerant as well.
Water the plant once a week in dry periods, only at the base.
Make sure to not get the leaves wet while watering as it can cause them damage.
The red-colored shrub only needs fertilizing when it is planted in very poor soil.
Therefore, it is recommended to do a soil test to determine if your red tip photinia needs fertilizing or not.
If required, feed the plant with a slow-release organic fertilizer.
Soil & Transplanting
Photinia fraseri shrub can tolerate a wide range of soils, except heavy clay soils.
To make a heavy clay soil suitable for photinia growth, alter it by adding 50% of compost before planting the shrub or wood cuttings.
Although the plant prefers moist soil, make sure it is not wet as it can lead to root rot.
Grooming and Maintenance
The red color of the plant is maintained by regularly trimming the ends of the shoots.
This encourages the growth of new leaves and as a result, the plant maintains its attractive color throughout the year.
Do not prune the plant in the fall, if you live in an area where it frosts because the cold temperature would damage the new growth.
The plant itself doesn’t need much maintenance to grow and survive.
How to Propagate Red Tip Shrub
Since red tip photinia is a hybrid plant, it can only be propagated through woody stem cuttings.
For best results and speeding up the rooting process, keep the potting mixture consistently moist.
Red Tip Shrub Pest or Diseases
While Fraser’s photinia is relatively hardy and doesn’t need much care, the shrubs grown in wet or humid conditions are susceptible to fungal diseases and several pests.
They are particularly at a high risk of getting affected by Entomosporium fungus.
Although the fungus only caused red spots on leaves, in the beginning, it can cause significant damage to the plant if not treated.
The leaf spot fungal disease can cause the plant to shed leaves and can sometimes even kill it.
The key to preventing fungal diseases and maintaining healthy plants is to keep the leaves dry and treat with a fungicide upon the first sign of disease.
This photinia hybrid is deer-resistant.
Red Tip Photinia Uses
Due to its attractive red leaves, the plant is mainly grown for ornamental purposes.
Since Fraser’s photinia shrubs grow very high, they are also an excellent choice for privacy screens and hedges.