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How to Grow Photinia

By S. McMullen
Photinia grows well from cuttings taken from the tip of the stem.

Photinia is the genus and common name for a group of shrub species frequently cultivated as ornamental plants. All species of photinia occur naturally in temperate areas of eastern Asia and several thrive in warmer climates across North America. Perhaps the most notable and desirable characteristic of photinia shrubs is the coppery-red foliage they produce in spring, which earned them the common name red-tip bush. Many gardeners cultivate photinia shrubs at home for use in large hedges or privacy screens, and there is no more reliable means of propagation than through rooting tip cuttings in early summer.

Prepare a rooting pot for the photinia cutting before taking it. Fill a 4-inch pot with commercially prepared soilless rooting medium or a homemade mix of equal parts milled coir, sharp sand and perlite. Wet the medium with 1/4 cup of water.

Take a soft or semi-ripe cutting from the tip of a vigorous photinia branch. Measure 4 to 6 inches from the tip and make an angled cut just below a set of leaves using a pair of sharp, clean pruning shears.

Pluck off the lower two sets of leaves to expose the nodes since they contain a high concentration of meristematic cells, which regulate and promote growth in plants. Dust the defoliated end of the photinia cutting with 0.8-percent IBA rooting hormone powder, paying special attention to the exposed nodes and the cut end.

Insert the base of the photinia cutting into the prepared rooting pot. Press it in until the lowest leaves rest approximately 1/8 inch above the surface of the rooting medium. Press the medium around the cutting to expel trapped air.

Place the potted photinia cutting outdoors in dappled light or light shade. Mist the cutting and the rooting medium daily to maintain a high level of humidity around the plant.

Check for roots in three months. Move the photinia cutting to a protected spot such as inside a cold frame or greenhouse if it fails to root before the end of summer. Maintain a light level of moisture in the rooting medium during the winter months. Check periodically for rooting.

Plant the rooted photinia cutting outdoors in a permanent bed the following spring once soil temperatures reach 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Water it every five days to a depth of 3 inches during the first summer, and then slowly decrease and eliminate supplemental water entirely in autumn.

 

Things You Will Need

  • 4-inch pot
  • Soilless rooting medium
  • Pruning shears
  • 0.8-percent IBA (indole butyric acid) rooting hormone

Warning

  • Photinia shrubs are especially susceptible to entomosporium leaf spot, a fatal fungal disease, when young. However, treating infestations promptly may save the shrub.

About the Author

 

Samantha McMullen began writing professionally in 2001. Her nearly 20 years of experience in horticulture informs her work, which has appeared in publications such as Mother Earth News.