Red-leaf Photinia (Photinia × fraseri): History, Characteristics & More

Red-leaf Photinia, also referred to as Photinia × fraseri, belongs to the Rosaceae family. It is a hybrid species, a cross between Photinia glabra and Photinia serratifolia. This shrub is native to Eastern Asia, particularly Japan, China and Taiwan.

Often grown as an ornamental shrub or small tree, red tip photinia (Photinia fraseri) produces bright red evergreen leaves that change to green after a few weeks. Red tip photinia is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 to 11.

The shrub tolerates moderate shade and it grows in well drained soils. It should be sheltered from the cold and dry winds of winter. It can be propagated by semi-woody cuttings in summer.

Mature, healthy photinia plants can reach up to 20 feet high and 8 feet width. It produces clusters of small white flowers in the spring, followed by red berries in the fall.

Red-leaf Photinia was first introduced to Europe and North America in the early 20th century as an ornamental plant. The plant is commonly used as a hedge or screen in landscapes, as well as a specimen plant in gardens.

Characteristics of Red-leaf Photinia

  • Plant type: Evergreen shrub.
  • Origin: Hybrid of Photinia glabra and Photinia serratifolia
  • Native region: Eastern Asia, particularly Japan, China, and Taiwan.
  • Growth rate: Fast, gaining 1 to 3 feet per year, reaching up to 15 feet at maturity.
  • USDA hardiness zones: 7 to 9.
  • Soil type: Loamy, well-drained.
  • Soil pH: Slightly acidic to neutral (6.0 to 7.5).
  • Sun exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Plant spacing: At least 5 feet apart.
  • Toxicity: Toxic to horses.
  • Growth Habit: Dense, upright growth habit
  • Leaf characteristics: Oval-shaped, 2¾ to 4 inches long, glossy green color.
  • Flower characteristics: White, in clusters, blooming in spring.
  • Fruit characteristics: Small red pome fruit or berries, lasting through winter and into the following spring.
  • Pruning: Regular pruning is recommended to maintain a dense foliage and prevent leggy growth.
  • Disease susceptibility: Highly susceptible to Entomosporium leaf spot.
  • Lifespan: Not specified, but with proper care and disease management, it can live for several years.

Cultivars of Red-leaf Photinia

Cultivar NameAppearanceSize
Red RobinNew growth is bright red, matures to green6-10 ft tall and wide
Little Red RobinSimilar to Red Robin but more compact3-4 ft tall and wide
Pink MarbleVariegated leaves with pink and white patches4-6 ft tall and wide
Carre RougeGlossy red leaves6-8 ft tall and wide
LouiseCoppery-red new growth, dark green mature leaves6-8 ft tall and wide
Pink CrispyPinkish-red new growth, green and pink variegated leaves4-6 ft tall and wide
Pink MarbleVariegated leaves with pink and white patches4-6 ft tall and wide

Diseases That Affect Red-leaf Photinia

DiseaseDescriptionSymptomsManagement
Entomosporium leaf spotA fungal disease caused by the fungus Entomosporium mespiliSmall, round, reddish-brown spots on leaves; leaf drop; defoliation; reduced plant vigorPrune and dispose of infected leaves; apply fungicides; improve air circulation; avoid overhead watering
Fire blightA bacterial disease caused by Erwinia amylovoraBrown or black leaves; dieback of branches; cankers on branches; oozing from cankersPrune and dispose of infected branches; apply bactericides; improve air circulation; avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization
Powdery mildewA fungal disease caused by various species of Erysiphe, Podosphaera, or SphaerothecaWhite or gray powdery growth on leaves, stems, and flowers; leaf distortion; reduced plant vigorImprove air circulation; avoid overhead watering; apply fungicides; remove and dispose of severely infected plant parts
Root rotA fungal disease caused by various species of Phytophthora, Pythium, or RhizoctoniaYellowing and wilting of leaves; brown or black roots; poor growth; plant deathImprove drainage; avoid overwatering; apply fungicides; remove and replace severely affected plants
Scale insectsSmall, sap-sucking insects that can cause damage and transmit diseasesYellowing and wilting of leaves; stunted growth; honeydew (a sticky substance) on leaves; sooty moldPrune and dispose of heavily infested branches; apply insecticidal soap or horticultural oil; introduce natural predators or parasites; avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization

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