Plants A to Z

How to Grow Red Tip Photinia

The evergreen shrub Red tip photinia (Photinia x fraseri) gets its name from the striking red color of its young leaves, which mature to a dark green color. It's a cross between Photinia glabra (Japanese photinia) and Photinia serratifolia, and it's a hybrid (Chinese photinia).

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It's also known as Fraser photinia and can be shaped into a small specimen tree. It's an excellent shrub for hedges and privacy screens. This plant grows quickly and can reach a height of 1 to 3 feet per year. It's best to plant it in the spring.

At their peak, the white or cream flowers nearly cover the foliage of the shrub. Due to the unpleasant odor of the flowers, most gardeners prefer to prune the shrub's stems before they flower. If the flowers are allowed to bloom, small red pome fruit develops, which can last from the winter to the spring.

Care for Red Tip Photinia

The key to grow these shrubs successfully is to give them a location with good air circulation and well-drained soil. Soggy conditions can facilitate the spread of disease, which can be fatal to the plant. Make sure to account for the plant's full width when planting several shrubs to form a hedge.

Between each plant, there must be enough space for air to pass through the leaves. Pruning is one of the ways of caring for your red tip photinia. Pruning is necessary at least once a year to thin out the growth and improve airflow throughout the plant.

You can also prune throughout the season to encourage the growth of the young red leaves. Aside from pruning, make sure to water when the soil becomes dry and fertilize if the soil is deficient in nutrients.


The sun tolerance of red tip photinia is quite high. It can even tolerate full shade, though flowering will be limited. This shrub thrives in partial shade in hot climates, especially protection from the hot afternoon sun. Plant it in a north- or east-facing location for the best results. It prefers full sun in cooler climates.


Red tip photinia prefers loamy, well-drained soil in a well-ventilated planting site. Before planting, heavy clay soils should be amended with 50% compost.


During dry periods, water the plant once a week at the base and avoid getting the leaves wet. Red tip photinia can withstand short periods of drought once established.

Humidity and Temperature

Red tip photinia thrives in USDA growing zones 7 through 9, as long as it receives adequate airflow to avoid fungal disease. It does not thrive in a humid environment. When planted in a location that is sheltered from harsh winds but has good air circulation around the shrub, it can survive in zone 6. 


Unless your soil is extremely poor, red tip photinia does not require fertilization. Use a slow-release organic fertilizer in the early spring when new growth begins if feeding is required (based on a soil test).


As the red foliage fades, continue pruning the shoot tips to encourage the production of the attractive reddish leaves. This does foreclose flower production. Most gardeners, however, are unconcerned about this because the flowers have an unpleasant odor.

To improve air circulation, thin your shrub each year in the winter by removing some stems. This will help to prevent fungal disease and ensure that all parts of the plant receive adequate light. Choose a central leader and prune away competing shoots if you want to grow this plant. 

Typical Pests and Diseases

When the weather is wet and humid, the red tip photinia is susceptible to fungal diseases. The Entomosporium fungus is particularly dangerous. The disease manifests itself as red spots on the leaf surface. It can overtake the plant and cause many of the leaves to fall off, sometimes killing the plant if not controlled. Keep the leaves dry and remove diseased foliages to aid the recovery of affected plants.

Powdery mildew and fireblight are two other issues to watch out for. If the soil is too wet, rot root can occur. Leaf scorch, crown gall, and grey mold are all possibilities. Caterpillars, European fruit-tip moth, mites, and scale are among the insects that may be found on this shrub.

Photinia Red Tip Varieties

The following are examples of red tip photinia varieties:

  • Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin': This cultivar is the most widely planted. It reaches a height of 9 to 12 feet and has a similar spread. It's a compact cultivar that's simple to tame for use as a hedge.
  • Photinia fraseri 'Little Red Robin': This plant is similar to 'Red Robin,' but it is much smaller, reaching only 2 to 3 feet in height and spread.
  • Photinia fraseri 'Pink Marble': This cultivar has rose-pink young leaves with white variegated margins and is a newer cultivar. It reaches a height of 7 to 14 feet and a width of 6 to 10 feet.
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Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci
Elissa Sanci, the owner of the website, and senior writer of New York Garden; graduated from Santa Barbara City College – a famous public school in California with many diverse training professions, and she majored in horticulture.