Photinia Red Robin is a cold-hardy evergreen shrub that is often used to create a living fence. The shrub provides year-round interest, reaches a mature height of 15-20 feet, and its dense branches make it difficult to pass through. A row of these interesting shrubs is ideal for use as a living fence or windbreak around a property line.
The Red Robin has red-tipped leaves and has become so popular it is often overlooked as a good choice for new landscapes. Let’s look at the many positives the Photinia Red Robin has to offer so we can take a fresh look at an old favourite.
Plant Red Robin shrubs in full or partial sun. It will grow in either, just avoid planting it in a shady location.
This evergreen shrub is cold hardy and thrives in most UK climates. It will tolerate near-freezing winter temperatures but young plant shoots might suffer burn from the cold temperatures. Planting the shrubs in a sheltered location will prevent any damage from cold temperatures.
Photinia must have good air circulation to be healthy. Plant them in a location 5-6 feet away from other Photinia, plants, and structures. If the air circulation is not sufficient around Photinia they are prone to develop diseases.
Photinia Red Robin will tolerate most soil conditions even heavy clay soil, if the soil is amended with organic matter.
Incorporate plenty of compost or well-rotted animal manure into the soil before planting Photinia. The organic matter will improve drainage and help roots push their way through the soil to grow deep.
How To Plant Photinia
- Plant in autumn so the roots system can become established in the soil before the shrub has to start actively growing. Dig the planting hole twice as deep and wide as the size of the potted Photinia’s container. Add compost to the bottom of the hole and gently remove the shrub from the container. Place it in the center of the planting hole. The top of the soil around the shrub’s roots should be even with the ground around the planting hole. Add or take away compost as needed to make them all the soil level. Backfill planting hole with the soil that had been previously removed. Water Photinia in well.
- If you are planting a rooted cutting, dig the hole 12-inches deep and equally as wide. Backfill the hole halfway with a mixture of compost and soil. Water well. Add a 2-4 inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the shrub to help retain soil moisture and prevent weed growth.
- Water the shrubs thoroughly once a week during times of little rainfall from spring through autumn. Stop watering during the winter. Stop watering altogether after the second year.
- If you are planting multiple Red Robins, dig the planting holes at least 5-6 feet apart.
New growth appears on the shrub with red leaves for 4-weeks then turn a glossy dark green as the leaf matures. Creamy-white fragrant blooms with 5-petals appear in mid-spring. After pruning the shrub will produce new red leaves.
Photinia Red Robin is a fast-growing shrub that may need occasional pruning to keep it the desired size and to promote good airflow around it. Prune once a year immediately after it has finished blooming in the spring.
If the shrub is old, unsightly, or has become overgrown, cut the entire shrub down to ground level at the end of autumn before the soil freezes. In spring the shrub will start producing new growth and will be a beautiful evergreen again in a couple of years.
Watch for spots that are red, purple, or maroon circles on the leaves forming on the leaves that could be the beginning of a fungal disease called leaf spot. If your Red Robin develops leaf spot, prune off the branches with loppers and/or leaves affected by the fungus and discard. Rake the fallen leaves under the shrub and discard also to prevent the leaf spot fungus from returning. Apply a fungicide to the shrub in the spring.
Propagating Photinia Red Robin
- Propagating these shrubs are extremely easy. After pruning in early summer, save a few of the smaller pieces to create new shrubs. There are 3 basic ways to propagate a cutting from this evergreen shrub.
- Place the cut end into a glass of water and place it on a sunny windowsill until the cutting develops roots. Change water every 5-7 days. When the new roots are a couple of inches long, remove the cutting from the glass of water and plant in a small container filled with potting soil. Place in a sunny location and keep soil moist. Transplant out into the yard the following autumn.
- Mix perlite and vermiculite is an airtight zip bag and place 1-3 cuttings in the bag. Seal it up and place the bag in direct sunlight. When roots appear, transplant into a small container of potting. keep soil moist and transplant outdoors the following autumn.
- Photinia Red Robin cuttings can be placed in a small container and placed under grow lights for a few months until a new root system develops. Keep soil moist and turn container halfway around once a week for even light exposure.