How to Prune Red Tip Photinia
Also known as Christmas berry, red tip photinia (Photinia x fraseri) adds a splash of color in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9. The new leaves of the shrub are bright red until they mature to a glossy green. The plant grows about 1 foot per year if left unattended. You can maintain the shape, height and some of the red color throughout the growing season with proper pruning of the red tip photinia. Do the heavy pruning in the winter or dormant season and the tip pruning in the spring and summer.
Sterilize your pruning tools by soaking the blades for five minutes in a solution made of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water.
Cut away any dead or broken twigs and branches with your sterilized pruning shears or loppers. Remove twigs and stems that are rubbing against each other to avoid further damage.
Thin out the middle of the red tip photinia to increase air circulation. Dense growth and humidity can cause the fungus Entomosporium leaf spot to attack the plant. Remove two or three branches at the root crown to open the interior of the shrub.
Control growth with a 6-inch trim of stray stems. The trim generates new growth, which causes the red color. Trim before late summer so the new growth has a chance to harden off before cooler weather hits.
Shape the red tip photinia so there is air flow between the shrub and neighboring plants. Good air circulation reduces the risk of any fungus attacking the shrub.
Rake the cuttings, leaves and debris from under and around the red tip photinia. Dispose of the clippings as yard waste so there is no chance of spreading any fungus or other diseases to the rest of the landscape.
Red tip photinia is classified as invasive in some areas. Contact your county extension office for more information.
- Clemson University Cooperative Extension: Photinia (Red Tip)
- Floridata: Photinea x fraseri
- Royal Horticulture Society: Photinia
- Monrovia Nursery: Fraser's Photinia
- National Gardening Association: Trimming Red Tip Photinia
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Photinia × fraseri "Red Robin"
- University of Texas at Austin: Ask Mr. Smarty Plants: When Do You Plant the Red-Tip Photinia Flowering Shrubs in Roanoke VA?
Julie Richards is a freelance writer from Ohio. She has been writing poetry and short stories for over 30 years, and published a variety of e-books and articles on gardening, small business and farming. She is currently enrolled at Kent State University completing her bachelor's degree in English.