The red tip shrub, red bird, Photinia or red top shrub (Photinia x fraseri) is a popular landscaping shrub in the southern U.S. The most attractive feature of the red tip shrub is the bright-red new growth that appears in early spring or after the shrub is pruned. Red tip shrubs are useful as a barrier or hedge because the growth does not become woody or sparse at the bottom of the shrub. The most common problem with red tip shrubs is decline due to Entomosporium leaf spot, a devastating fungal disease that must be treated to revive the red tip shrub.
Prune back the infected or weakened red tip shrubs as much as one half of their current size or more, until you have cut away all the diseased tissue and leaves. If necessary, you can cut the diseased shrubs to within 6 inches of the ground. This should be done during the winter, when the shrubs are not actively growing. Choose a day to prune when the air is dry because fungal spores spread easier when humidity levels are high. After pruning, dispose of all pruned limbs in a place away from the garden area.
Apply around the base of the plants the amount of a granulated organic fertilizer recommended on the fertilizer container label. Spread the fertilizer as far out as the branches previously reached, to ensure the feeder roots have access to the fertilizer. Water the fertilizer into the soil around the red tip shrubs.
Apply a layer of mulch 1 to 2 inches thick, around the bottom of the red tip shrubs. Spread the mulch out as far as 18 to 24 inches from the trunk of the shrubs. Leave a 1 inch space between the mulch and the trunks of the shrubs to prevent mildew from spreading from the mulch to the shrubs. Mulch prevents water from splashing onto the shrubs, which spreads fungal diseases. Also, mulch conserves moisture and controls weeds.
As soon as new buds begin to swell in the spring, apply a garden fungicide containing Chlorothalonil. Mix the fungicide according to directions and apply regularly at the specified times recommended on the fungicide label.
Water the red tip shrubs regularly. Mature plants need watering every two weeks, if there is no rain. Apply the water around the base of the plants, letting the water soak into the mulch. Do not allow the leaves and branches of the shrubs to get wet when watering. This will spread the fungal disease and lead to the further decline of the red tip shrubs.