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17 messages
08/03/2014 at 19:14

About 3 1/2 years ago we splashed out on an established lollipop shaped tree it's about 15ft ? Tall planted in to the ground in front of the house, the ground is heavy it's wet in winter and dries out in the summer. It's loosing leaves quite dramatically just as the red is coming through. No obvious sign of bugs it just looks incredibly sad I have given it slow release feed. I was wondering if it's lacking in nutrients ? Or should I try and hack it back in the summer ?

im envious when I see neighbours with photinia with thick glossy leaves, any suggestions ?

08/03/2014 at 19:32

Photinias do drop a lot of leaves throughout the year, in my experience.  They dont seem to like too much wind either or too much moisture.  For me they are temperamental plants.  

In late spring ...after the new growth turns to green....I pinch shoots back to encourage new red growth.  Oftentimes I repeat this in mid summer too. 

I domt think it's a nutrition thing...I think it's a physiological thing, a term I think covers a range of issues without actually naming one.  I have a sense that they probably  do better as a hedge than as a sIngle specimen plant perhaps preferring the added protection !  

Photinias like to grow tall, to jettison their lower branches, so regular pruning should help.

09/03/2014 at 19:12

I just chopped my photinia up and binned it... it was an ugly specimen that no amount of pruning was going to resolve, plus the red leaves all looked like ladybirds - bright red with ugly black patches. I was fed up with the contant sweeping up too. It's a shame, the people round the corner have a lovely one, but they've just pruned it & chopped all the red leaf and flowers off!

18/03/2014 at 17:33

Thanks for the replies I think I'll wait until the flowers have finished and no risk of frost and I'll give it a heavy prune and hope it stimulates some new growth, right now it's looking very bare, a neighbour had an enormous photinia bush which was very healthy and one day they had some cowboy gardeners in to "trim" it..... I was horrified to see it butchered it and now it's got strong new growth! The tree cost £250 I'm just going to have to be brave and go for it. Will go and take a picture of it as it is now ...


18/03/2014 at 17:40

I must say I am impressed, Ive added these pictures using my iPad, didn't know I could do that!



18/03/2014 at 17:40

I've had bags and bags of leaves falling this past few weeks

18/03/2014 at 20:54

Glad you posted as was worried about my photinia bush which is dropping a lot of leaves too. I've also had the black spots on the leaves for the last year or so. Your tree looks really lovely at the front there - hope it recovers ok!

Can anyone tell me what kind of soil they prefer? I've got a very alkaline soil and have been mulching with ericacious compost to try to reduce the PH. This is an attempt to improve the leaf colour which is very pale. Am I just fighting a losing battle with this plant?? 

(Hope you don't mind me asking here OP - was about to post but saw you had already asked similar q!)



18/03/2014 at 21:58

I think between us we can make our photinia happier and healthier 

19/03/2014 at 14:14

@Drywsdad and @Abby2, please keep in mind that evergreen shrubs and trees drop their older leaves in Spring, when new leaves are forming. However, I think the main problem is formed by the clay soil which your tree/shrub is planted in. It creates the wet conditions that Photinia's hate and is the main reason for leaf spot to occur, You can read more about that here:

Photinia's want a free draining, slighly acid soil, which heavy clay isn't. And I'm afraid that re-planting the tree with ericacious compost in the same planting hole will not resolve the problems you're having because the alkaline clay soil will mix with the compost after rainfall. Besides that, on a damp, heavy soil a planting hole backfilled with coarser material, including a lighter natural soil or topsoil mix may act as a sump.

My advice would be to either create a raised border completely filled with  ericacious compost, mixed with a sandy topsoil or plant Photinia's in a big tub with holes for drainage. If that's not possible you'd be better off planting something else, for instance a Portugese Laurel.

Sorry for the long post, but I hope this will help you decide what to do. 


19/03/2014 at 17:43

Photinias do very well in my very alkaline soil, but it is well-drained. I agree that it may be wet conditions that are affecting your photinias. They do drop leaves at this time of year anyway, as Flowerchild says. The photos show a tree making lots of new growth, and it's a good shape, so I would leave it alone.

19/03/2014 at 18:15

Very useful advice thank you!

My photinia currently has lovely red new growth but the older leaves are pale and mottled which as you suggest, Flowerchild probably means it's not happy in my soil. I'm thinking about replacing it with a laurel as they do very well in my garden - I may buy another photinia to grow in a large pot instead.

Hope your photinia recovers successfully Drywsdad 



19/03/2014 at 18:42

My soil is free draining and neutral.  When I prune it I water it because I feel it needs it.  As I have already said, Photinias seem to very temperamental at times and susceptible to all kinds of leaf problems despite varying soil conditions.  

Every photinia I've grown has been a disappointment and mostly when I see them they are cursed for their leaf drop, etc.  Not sure they enjoy it near the coast.  Shelter seems to be required for good quality plant.

19/03/2014 at 19:15

There's a house near me which was up for sale last year and the owners planted a row of standard Photinias in the gravelled strip between their garden and the one next door - presumably to tart up the rather empty front garden for selling. They look dire, and look worse with every passing month. It's quite an open sunny site and there are so many other things they could have chosen which would have done a better job and would probably have been a lot cheaper too. A house across the road from me also has one and it looks equally awful. I don't think they grow well here at all - wet, cold clay in most gardens.

I've never been tempted to buy one. I'd agree with Verdun  - they need a bit of shelter and the right soil to have any impact.

19/03/2014 at 19:30

my photinia hedge has dropped an incredible amount of leaves. the shrubs look way too gangly and as soon as the new seasons red leaves turn green it is in for a shock, down by a third. it is changing from a nice hedge to an ugly mess. will not be beaten and if it is kept hedge like it can look so good.

18/05/2014 at 18:24


I have a standard photinia which I inherited 6 years ago when we moved house. Until now It has been fine red leaves which turn green and drop eventually. This year however it has flowered!!!! Much to my fact it is full of flowers at the moment, however the foliage is lookinf rather thin. Will this improve Once the flowers die off or is it a sign of a tree under stress ?

22/05/2014 at 12:36

I have a variegated Photinia that I failed to get in to the soil last year, and it looked great this spring.  Only to now look a little sad after finally planting it out.  I'm loosing a lot of leaf.  I'm hoping it will settle down and settle in.  I thought it would be really happy to be finally liberated from its small pot!

Nice to see a Photinia grown as a standard.  And I like the idea of planting them into hedging.

I'm near the south-coast and there are some very exposed specimens close by that appear to do just fine.  My neighbour has one that has grown large and a little leggy, but it looks healthy.

22/06/2014 at 12:05

Well some good news, complete strangers have been stopping their cars to say hello and congratulate me on a wonderful tree one was a landscape architect! Apparently I have a rare variety of photinia that's known for it's flowers, it was covered in flower heads and now I have new healthy leaves growing. So relieved to know that it didn't need hacking back. Will have a go at up loading a photo.

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