Contents: Photinia x fraserii Red Robin, Pruning the Photinia Red Robin, When to Prune a Robin Plant, How to prune the Photinia Red Robin Shrub, Red Robin Hedge Pruning, Care of Photinia Red Robin, Photinia Red Robin and Leaf Spot, Fire Blight, Powdery Mildew, Vine Weevil, Propagation of Photinia Red Robin, How to Plant Photinia Red Robin Shrub?, Growing Photinia Red Robin as a Hedge, Where to Plant Photinia Red Robin Shrub?, What soil type is best for the ‘Red Robin’?

Pruning Photinia × fraseri Red Robin | Christmas Berry 'Red Robin'

Photinia Red Robin Hedging

Photinia x fraserii Red Robin

Photinia Red Robin has a common name the Chistmas Berry, not sure why, as they are 2 different plants. The Photinia is native of Asia and the Christmas Berry is native of North America. The Photinia is an evergreen, primarily a shrub, but it can be a standalone tree and incleasingly popular as a hedge. The Photinia hedge is taking over from the Leylandii as a popular hedgerow.

Photinia x fraserii Red Robin is an evergreen shrub, it a marvelous standout character, its glossy leaves are a striking bright red colour when young foliage which eventually turn a deep glossy green colour. The mixture of dark green and bright red foliage makes the Photinia spectacular. The Photinia flowers in the late spring, it produces clusters of tiny white flowers which occasionally is replaced by red berries. Which I suppose resemble the Christmas Berry tree.

Photinias: Small Family of 60 origially from Central America. Photinias typically grow from 4–15 m tall are members of the "Rosaceae Family": Rosaceae, the rose family, is a medium-sized family of flowering plants, including 4,828 known species in 91 genera. of trees and shrubs, having the typical small flowers each being made up of 5 typical single rose flowers, but much more smaller.

Photinia Red Robin is hardy: Hardiness of plants describes their ability to survive adverse growing conditions. If a plant is Hardy, it is its own ability to tolerate cold, heat, drought, flooding, or wind are typically considered measurements of hardiness and can with stand the most severe winters, excellent for the UK, USA and Northern European weather, and any die back, as a result of the cold drying winds, is soon replaced by a stunning mass of new foliage with the brightest of red leaves.

It has a compact habit, with not a too dense foliage canopy. It is kept within bounds by pruning as and when required for size retention and new foliage flushes of colour. Left to grow, it can eventually reach 3 meters in height and spread. It can also be kept well below that size by selective pruning.

Photinia Red Robin Flower

Photinia Red Robin in Flower

Photinia Red Robin Flower

Photinia Red Robin in Flower

Pruning the Photinia Red Robin

The Photinia Red Robin is a shrub and it can handle and responds well to a hard prune. We prune most shrubs to keep their shape and to restrict their growth and to keep them tidy. The Photinia Red Robin main characteristics are its mixture of colourful green and red leaves. The red leaves are the new foliage, they will fade to a rusty dull bronze colour, which is not so striking. Regular Pruning of the Photinia Red Robin throughout the year encourages the spectacular new red foliage. Prune after the foliage has faded to a dull bronze.

The Photinia Red Robin is grown and used for different reasons, standalone tree, standalone brush or more popular as a hedgerow. How you prune the Photinia is dependant upon its use.

Photinia is quite quick growing once established, it will grow around 30 cm / a foot, a year and the new foliage will grow around 15 cm, 6 inches, and may need regular pruning to stop it growing out of control.

When to Prune a Robin Plant

All evergreens should are ideally pruned during the growing season Photinia Red Robin is not an exception. The best time for the first pruning session is just as the first flush of red Robin foliage starts to turn green. This is normally around 6 weeks into the growth season, around mid to late spring. This will then encourage the red Robin bush to sprout new stems and make it ablaze with colourful foliage. Prune again after the foliage has faded to a dull bronze.

The only exception is, if you want your Photinia to flower. If this is so, then delay all pruning until the flowers have finished. Be aware that any pruning late in the season will also affect the plant's ability to flower the following year, as there will not be time left for the new flowering buds to develop.

How to prune the Photinia Red Robin Shrub

Photinia Single Tree

If you are Growing the Photinia as a single tree, you will do it for effect. The picture to the left is ready for a prune, you can see the ball effect which is to be achieved. I must admit, they look stunning to have 3 or 4 in a row, boardering a driveway.

As per the general instructions, make your first prune of the year in mid to late spring, you can do this with shears. Happily snip away until you have the correct shape. This will set you up for the season, just remember not to chop off more the 50% of the mass, this may endanger the tree.

You can then trim your photinia every month or six weeks throughout the summer to keep the shape. I would make your last trim of the year in September, pruning in the late summer months can result in the plant getting weak, susceptible to disease and fungi, and may die. Additionally it may result in the Photinia Red Robin not flowering the following season..

Regular light pruning with shears will encourage more growth of the bright new foliage. After pruning fertilize at the base with a light srinkle of Fish, Blood and Bone Fertiliser or general fertilizer.

Photinia Bush

Photinia Red Robin responds well to regular cut-backs with regular garden shears. As per the general instructions, make your first prune of the year in mid to late spring. You can safely prune up to 50% of the shrub mass. Pruning upto 50% in the late summer months can result in the plant getting weak, susceptible to disease and fungi, and may die. Additionally it may result in the Photinia Red Robin not flowering the following season. The Photinia Red Robin will flower in the early summer and you may want to wait to prune until after flowering.

We recommend regular light pruning with shears to encourage more growth of the bright new foliage. After pruning fertilize at the base with a light srinkle of Fish, Blood and Bone Fertiliser or general fertilizer.

Red Robin Hedge Pruning

If grown as a hedge plant, then prune as required - either with electric hedge shears or any normal pruning aid. But wait until growth starts in the spring. Any pruning carried out in winter will not start to re-grow until spring, so you could end up with a semi-bare hedge that does not deserve the name Red Robin. Photinia Red Robin responds well to regular cutting back and hard pruning is not a problem! Lack of regular pruning can persuade the Red Robin to flower. Flowering Red Robin are quite attractive if seen in masses. This shrub is not seen in flower too often, mainly because of the regular pruning that it gets. However, if you have space, then lay off the pruning for a whole year and you will probably be rewarded by a good show of flower trusses atop the branches.

Care of Photinia Red Robin

This is one of those all endearing garden plants that offers so much for so little, an established Photinia Red Robin will look after itself. A young plant will need fertilising twice a year with Fish, Blood and Bone Fertiliser once in spring and again in the autumn. This will help it to establish a good root system. Just evenly sprinkle a handful around the base of the tree, it will work itself in. Keep the area around the base of the plant free from weeds and grass. The Photinia Red Robin will shred its leaves from time to time and they will need sweeping up.

Disease Affecting Photinia Red Robin

Photinia Red Robin and Leaf Spot

The main cause of concern for the Photinia Red Robin is Leaf Spot on the foliage. It seems to be of no consequence, but if left untreated, Leaf Spot can eventually lead to either the severe weakening of the shrub and eventually resulting in death.

Leaf spot is a fungal: Most phytopathogenic fungi belong to the Ascomycetes and the Basidiomycetes. The fungi reproduce both sexually and asexually via the production of spores and other structures. Spores may be spread long distances by air or water, or they may be soilborne. Many soil inhabiting fungi are capable of living saprotrophically, carrying out the part of their life cycle in the soil. These are facultative saprotrophs. Fungal diseases may be controlled through the use of fungicides and other agriculture practices. However, new races of fungi often evolve that are resistant to various fungicides. Biotrophic fungal pathogens colonize living plant tissue and obtain nutrients from living host cells. Necrotrophic fungal pathogens infect and kill host tissue and extract nutrients from the dead host cells. disease which can increase over several years if not treated. The brown spots, will gradually grow to cover the entire leaf which will turn dark purple or black.

Firstly remove all the affected leaves and certainly do not allow them to accumulate on the ground below the hedge or shrub. If you can not burn them, please dispose of them appropiately as they are Fungal.

If the fungal returns the Red Robin can be treated with fungicide sprays which are most effective between spring and autumn.

Fire Blight

Fire blight is a bacterial disease, bacterium Erwinia amylovora, that can effect Photinia's but mainly firebright kills apple and pear trees and ornimental grasses.

Fire Blight bacteria attacks the shoots and leaves, it turns them a light brown colour and crisp to the touch. Early signs are that the leaf edges will turn black, they will then turn brown and spread to the center of the leaf. The infection is often spread from one part of the tree to another or from one tree to another by insects and splashing rain. Fire Blight can effect the photinia's between late spring up until autumn.

If you suspect your plant is starting to get fire bright on a leaf, there is a sure tell, trace back from the leaf 5 to 10 cm and scrape away the bark, if it is a red - brown colour, then your tree is infected. If it is white, then it is ok.

It can be controlled without chemicals.Trace back from the effected area, scraping the bark every 5 cm until it is white / yellow in colour. From the last point measure another 30cm and remove the branch at this point. Repeat until you have cut away all effected areas. Be very carefull not to contaminate other areas while removing the infected. It is best to burn the infected, disposal can be difficult otherwise.

If you do get a case of Fire Blight it is appropiate to contact your appropiate plant health authority. If in the UK you can contact D.E.F.R.A. and report your case on the risk register, if the case is small, no further action will be taken.

Powdery Mildew

Photinia Red Robin is suseptable to Powdery Mildew, fungus Podosphaera pannosa, this fungus is a common problem on apple and pear trees. The first signs are a white to buff-colouring on the leaves, this progresses to the leaves and shoots turn nearly white and may become twisted.

Treatment of powdery mildew can either be chemical or organic. It does respond well to organic treatment firstly prune out the affected leaves and any affected small branches, burn all the pruned foliage or dispose of them properly as they effect others. There are two proven organic sprays which work in the treatment of powdery mildew. The first is a mixture of milk and water, mix a solution of one part milk to nine parts water and spray it on the plants in the morning of a warm and dry day. Apply the spray and follow up by a second treatment 2 weeks later. The second method is very diluted solution of bicarbonate of soda and water, one level tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda to four and a half litres / 8 pints of water. One application should be enouth to irradicate the problem.

Vine Weevil

Vine Weevil is a beetle, part of the insect family, it feeds on a wide range of ornamental plants and fruits. The Vine Weevil is one of the most devasting garden problems and one we have experience with. Ours came in a small batch from Holland and caused over £20,000 worth of damage!

The Vine Weevil or Otiorhynchus Sulcatus (scientific name) will feed on the leaves, just like a caterpillar would, nibbling through the leaves. The beetle its self wont kill your plants, just damage them. The adult beetle will feed from Sping until the end of summer.

The Vine Weevil will then lay its eggs, preferably in plant pots or containers, it will make a nest of eggs within the container. The eggs will hatch into grubs, they are maggot like, with a brown head and appox. 1 cm in lenth. These grubs are devestating, they feed on your roots, devouring the whole root system.

The main problem with grubs is that they feed from November until April, which is the time we close up our green houses for the winter, therefore we return in early spring to find we have nothing left, the beetles may be visible but the grubs are hidden below ground.

If you are not already using a sticky traps, I strongly advise you do so. You can either buy some or make your own.

We NOW use a sticky patch, mounted on a small cane and staked into plant pot, there is no need to have them everywhere just yet, just one every 5m or so. These traps will collect a magnitude of insects and from time to time just inspect the collection. If you do find a Vine Weevil then you need to ramp up your protection, more sticky patches. I would also invest in some sticky tape, wrap a 2 inch strip around the trunks of you plants, probably close to the base, you do not want the beetles laying eggs.

This remedy should be proficient enough to catch all the beetles.

For the grubs, I dont like recommending products, but this is important, we recommend using 'Nemasys vine weevil killer', you can find it listed on on-line retailers for £15. It Kills vine weevil grubs and nothing else and it is safe for children, pets and wildlife. A packs treats 12 sqm or up to 210 pots. Easy to use, it is soluable, just add 10% of pot volume as solution i.e. to a 1 litre pot add 100ml of Nemasys Vine Weevil solution.

An application in late summer will protect your root system for up to 4 months, this will ensure your plants stay healthy and vine weevil free.

Vine Weevil Beetle

Vine Weevil Beetle

Vine Weevil Grub

Vine Weevil Grub

Propagation of Photinia Red Robin

This is best carried out with semi-ripe cuttings in late summer. Feel down the stem and using some secateurs make a cutting below the first leaf stem. Then 1. trip evenly just below the first stem. 2. Remove all the leaf stems leaving the top group of stems at 3. Cut the leaves evenly in half at 3.

The next step is from the bottom centre of the main stem (from where you made cut 1.), cut away from the first at a 60 degree angle. Fill an appropiate sized pot with fertiliser mix or grow bag and make a hole with a pencil two to three inches deep. Dip your cutting in Honey, giving it an ample covering and put it in the hole you have made, make sure you do not knock off the Honey. Press the soil around the stem firmly and water. In 3 weeks you can give your stem a gentle lift, you will be able to feel if the cutting has sucessfully taken roots or the cutting will just pop out

How to Plant Photinia Red Robin Shrub?

The best time to plant out is in March to April and September to October as long as the ground is not frozen.

Remove the hesian sacking from the rootball or take out of the pot, gently tap to remove the excess soil from the roots. Appoximately dig a hole twice the width of the rootball and the same depth. Sprinkle evenly in a handful of Fish, Blood and Bone Fertiliser: Fish Blood and Bone Fertiliser is a traditional, organic-based general purpose plant food which provides the three major nutrients required for strong, healthy growth. Nitrogen encourages growth and rich green foliage, whilst phosphate promotes vigorous root development. The potash content helps improve flower colour and the ripening of fruit and vegetables. and place the plant into the hole. Fill in with soil around the rootball and compact the soil down gently but firmly with your foot. Water well after to settle the surrounding ground.

Growing Photinia Red Robin as a Hedge

To grow the Red Robin as a hedgerow, the individual plants should be planted about 75cm (2ft 6in)apart and when grown against a wall or a fence then the plants should be at least 60cm / 2ft from the wall or fence. If they are planted too close they will probably suffer from the lack of moisture to the roots and will need watering occasionally.

Where to Plant Photinia Red Robin Shrub?

You can plant Photinia Red Robin shrubs in almost any garden situation. It prefers full sun and it is also very happy in the shade without losing its foliage colour. It makes an ideal centerpiece as a standalone shrub in the centre of the lawn or it is naturally at home giving months of foliage colour towards the back of a border. Being evergreen it is more commonly it is used as a row of hedging with its compact habit, which provides density, with its striking young red leaves it looks far better all year round than the other methods of hedging.

What soil type is best for the ‘Red Robin’?

Photinia x fraserii ‘Red Robin’ is not suited in the poorest quality of soils. It prefers and preforms better in organic, fertile and well drained soils, it requires a lot of nutrition if it is pruned regularly.

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