Photinia dilemma!

nishamhran(z8OR)June 29, 2004

I need your experiences/advice on planting Photinia in dry dappled shade.

In early Spring this year, staff in two great local garden centers advised me against buying Photinia for a hedge in a dry shaded spot in my garden. They made it sound like Photinia had little merit, was over used, and prone to blight in certain areas. Basically any Gardener worth their salt wouldn't plant Photinia. I listened to their advice and bought Portugese Laurel instead; the laurel is doing nicely and has been passed up by recent deer visitors.

But I still have neighboring eyesores to block and I'm envious of the healthy looking red tipped Photinias in my locale (Portland Metro region). I need some relief from all the green in my garden.

If I "give in" and plant some Photinia, am I commiting some great evil; will lightning strike my favorite trees, a swarm of locust the rest of my plants?

Any thoughts or comments on my dilemma?

Is there something better out there for dry shade than red-tipped Photinia?

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Don't know what your climate is like ...

Here in the Southeast, photinia is notorious for a black spot disease that slowly kills almost every shrub that is ever planted.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2004 at 10:10AM
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Photinias are certainly not immune to Photinia leaf spot, Entomosporium mespili, here in the PNW as well. A lot of very reputable nurseries no longer offer them for sale because of this problem. And dappled dry shade is certainly not to their liking under the best of circumstances, so it is very likely that the stress resulting from this undesirable planting situation will accelerate the spread of the disease.

Lucky you that you frequent a nursery where the staff truly knows their stuff and can provide quality advice! Avoid the photinias. For fast growing evergreen screening for moderate shade, the laurels, both Portuguese and English, are excellent candidates. For a shot of color, you could consider a variegated Aucuba - a large fast growing shrub ideally suited to dry shade situations and often found with yellow splashes on the foliage.

Provided the shade is truly dappled and you can amend the soil to increase moisture retention, a pieris could add some needed foliage color as well. There are variegated forms ('Flaming Silver' is gorgeous) and many will offer salmony-coral new growth.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2004 at 10:19AM
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Thanks gardengal and HeartofDixie. Didn't know there was a varigated Japanese Pieris and will be on the lookout for one for my garden. Am growing Aucuba and its doing well.

Photinias have been wiped off my list...

    Bookmark   July 11, 2004 at 11:37PM
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Bellingham(z8 WA)

Nandina domestica.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2004 at 6:04PM
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I have a single photinia in dappled shade that a friend gave me when she moved...I think the garden people were right. Not only has it barely grown, it is always wanting more water, and the color is not very exciting in the shade, so you miss out on that too.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2004 at 12:33PM
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On behalf of your neighbors, I beg you not to plant photinia. Both my next-door neighbors planted it along the property lines. It has sucked all the moisture out of the soil for ten feet on both sides of my yard. On one side it has also blocked out ALL sun and left me with a 15' wide dead space the entire length of my yard where nothing grows - not even weeds - covered with their dropped photinia leaves. The photinia in the other neighbor's yard is dying of whatever disease it is they get. Trust me, if you plant it anywhere near your property line, you will kill everything near it in your neighbor's yard. It isn't just ugly. It is a nasty plant. The only good thing I can say about it is that flocks of birds shelter in its branches during rain storms.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2004 at 4:58PM
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Wow!! That is a lot of negative thoughts on the species.

I am here to offer a little love...
I live in the NW and love my photinia bushes!!!
We live on a wetland with full sun exposure in summer. We made a shaped hedge which the birds really enjoy.
You can hear them singing from the shrubs for their breakfast every morning.

We have never had a problem with disease perhaps because we are hands on with the maintenance care of our garden.
Maybe we've just been lucky.

Please don't count them out entirely if you desire an evergreen screen with rich color on the new foliage. When carefully planned in the garden along with evergreen shrubs like Emeralds they really stand out year around.

Full sun is a requirement for thriving in the NW. Again, consult with your nursery regarding your area and soil conditions before giving it a go.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2004 at 5:55PM
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Okay, Okay, poor beautiful photinia! It is (can be) a beautiful large shrub if treated properly. For your conditions, Don't Plant It. However, It is generally a lovely large shrub. The new foliage color is great when given the sun it needs and it is fast growing with the right conditions. It can be a very useful plant... but then, so can Poison Ivy...Just had to say something good about it.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2005 at 3:12PM
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mikeandbarb(z8 D/FW)

I was told that they only last for 20 year if they don't get black spot first. I have 20 red tips that came with the house and I would not waste my money on these shrubs.

They are one shrub that is used all around our area I see rows of them along businesses and Apartment building some have died leaving ugly dead branch's.

They don't have that much color to them only the tips are red for a short while here. There roots are tree like and very bad to have close to any other plants.

I trimmed up my red tips and want to plant shade lovely plants through out the area my problem is the roots, making it very hard to place plants where I want to put them.

They are a bird haven so if you like birds you'll get plenty at least that has been my experiance. The draw back Poo all over. We have 50 or so birds and it gets very nosie when their all inside the shrub.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 10:21PM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

Photinia is gorgeous, but only in full sun conditions.

Nandina is impossible to eradicate once planted, so be sure you want it, first. I'm still trying to kill the stuff from the previous owner; brush poison seems to only slow it down for a while.

I like the variegated aucubas in shade; they're really eye-catching.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 9:39PM
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I also raise my voice against photinia! The people who owned my house before I did planted four of these things in the back yard along the north side of the fence, under a gigantic tree. The particular cultivar grew to 20 feet, with a width of about 10. I turned them into trees and still hate the two that are left. They coat the ground with leathery leaves, are impossible to prune, and turn the surrounding area into a cave.

Avoid photinia! Plant acuba japonica or something native instead.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2005 at 2:24PM
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ChlorophyllJill(z6 OK)

I guess this post is old, but thought I'd add my two cents. I was really surprised to read how many people have problems with Photinia. I don't know what it is - whether it's where I live, or what, but my Photinias really do quite well without much care at all! Since I've read all the problems that can occur, I keep waiting for mine to start having problems - but they keep going year after year (I shouldn't be saying this - after I get done posting they'll probably start dieing on me LOL)! I don't water them a whole lot, I do prune them quite often, and I have never had a problem with disease. Once a year, when spring comes along, I remove the leaves out of the flower beds they're in, but that's it. They are a vigorous grower, as has been said, and you can keep the red going quite a while if you keep them trimmed up. That does take some vigilance though - they do grow FAST - all the time! I'm not sure they EVER slow down growing during the year. Where I live in Oklahoma it is huuuumid in the summer! That doesn't seem to deter them, either. They do just fine. I wouldn't, however, plant them in shade. I don't think they would do that well in shade. Mine are in full sun. I've had them for probably about 10 years (they came as tiny bushes when we bought the home) - nary a problem the whole time. All the Photinia I've seen around here (and there is a lot) seem to thrive. It must be where I live. Just wanted to add my experience with Photinia!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2005 at 3:16PM
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rivers1202(Z8a South Carolina)

[ All the Photinia I've seen around here (and there is a lot) seem to thrive. It must be where I live. Just wanted to add my experience with Photinia! ]

It's the same thing with the Photinia here in our neck of the woods, Jill. I've seen them growing all over the place and nobody seems to have any problems with them...they're beautiful but do require LOTS of room to spread out.
My brother planted them around his backyard for privacy screening and they also make an effective fence. His Photinias have always been healthy and I know he must have 20 or more of them.

However, with that being said, I still wouldn't buy one and plant it anywhere on MY property. I have enough problems in our humid climate with various fungal diseases, that I don't need to invite trouble into my yard.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 1:46AM
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ChlorophyllJill(z6 OK)

Yeah, they are pretty, but not sure I would have chosen it myself. The Photinia we have was already here when we bought the house. I just can't believe how fast it grows though - I'm sure you've seen the ones that could be considered trees! You either need to allow it space to grow, or prune it all the time!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2005 at 10:10AM
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