Red tip photinia diseases

The ravaging of red tip photinia seems unstoppable


Dear Neil: My redtip photinias have brown spots on their leaves and it appears that they are dying. The local store told me it was a fungus and that there was nothing I could do to stop it. It’s all up and down our street. Can you give us insights on what we should do?

A: That’s Entomosporium fungal leaf spot. It has ravaged redtip photinias first, and now Indian hawthorns all across America. I’ve seen it in landscapes in the rainforest in Western Washington, and I’ve seen it in desert areas of California. It is all across our state of Texas, and what they told you was correct. There is no fungicide that stops its spread. First you’ll have the brown spots, then pale leaves, then white leaves that will then scorch and die. Entire branches will die and eventually you’ll have to remove the plants. I wish I had better news, but it’s probably time to switch off to some other type of shrub. Hollies are handsome and very dependable. Nellie R. Stevens is my favorite for a large shrub, also Oakland and Willowleaf in decreasing order of size.
Dear Neil: I saw your post about dwarf yaupons showing dead areas of leaves. I wanted to share my own observations from here in our neighborhood. I have watched feral cats mark their territories on the dwarf yaupons, and within a short period of days, all the leaves in the sprayed portions turned brown. It seems to affect dwarf yaupons more dramatically than any other plants in our landscapes. I thought that might be of help to your readers.
A: That’s a terrific suggestion that is very likely right on target. Thanks!
Dear Neil: I am trying to remove a yaupon holly that is growing beneath a large oak. I can’t have the stump ground out. I’d like to find some kind of brush killer I could daub onto the cut holly stump to keep it from sprouting back, but the products I’m finding are intended to be sprayed on. I don’t want to hurt the oak.
A: Use a broadleafed weedkiller spray (containing 2,4-D), but instead of just painting it onto the cut surface, drill holes into the stump and pour the herbicide in at full strength. Allow it to soak into the wood, then repeat the process. If you’re careful in your drilling, that will keep it all contained within the stump. It should do the job.
Dear Neil: I have a 7-foot-tall fig tree that blew over in a windstorm two years ago. I tied it upright and it seems to be doing very well, but it still has no root support. Is this going to be a permanent situation?
A: It should not be. Probe around on the uprooted side of the tree to see if there is any type of debris that would keep its roots from developing normally there – chunks of concrete, old stump, etc. I suspect you won’t find anything, and if that’s the case you probably ought to trim it drastically to remove some of the sailboat effect of the large leaves. Allow it to regrow from close to the ground and it should stabilize. Some plants such as lacebark elms and purpleleaf plums are notorious for this bad habit, but I’ve not heard of figs having this trouble.
Dear Neil: I planted three green ash trees about three years ago. They lost their leaves prematurely last year, and as things stand now they still have no leaves. Is this the way they normally grow?
A: While it’s certainly not what you would want from three shade trees, unfortunately, it is fairly normal behavior for ash trees. They live hard and short lives, usually due to invasion of ash borers. They should have leafed out weeks ago. It’s time to think about better species to use to replace them. Sorry for the bad news.
Dear Neil: I have several 30-year-old crape myrtles in my yard. I recently noticed some white things on their trunks. When I probed them they did not move, but they seemed to be burrowing in the tree’s surface. What are they, and how can I get rid of them?

A: Those are a comparatively new insect to Texas, crape myrtle scale. They were first observed in Richardson in 2004, and for several years were pretty much confined to the North Dallas area. More recently, however, they have shown up across more of Texas and the South. I’ve been watching this pest all of that time and I can honestly say that it has never killed a crape myrtle. But it has some unsightly habits. It spews out a sticky honeydew residue that coats the leaves and stems of the plants. Sooty mold then develops in the honeydew. The black stems are unattractive and people get concerned about them, but in reality the way to prevent the mold is to prevent the scale in the first place. A soil drench with Imidacloprid made around each crape myrtle in early May will usually stop the scales from feeding on the plants. There is also a predatory ladybug (black with two orange spots) that will help keep their populations reduced. So they’re a nuisance, but not a horrible threat.
Dear Neil: Our pecans were filled with a mold-like substance last fall. What can we do to prevent that this year?
A: Follow the Texas A&M Extension horticulture pecan spray schedules you’ll find online. That was probably hickory shuckworm damage that kept the kernels from filling out. The mold formed in the ensuing months before the pecans finally dropped.
If you’d like Neil’s help with your plant question, drop him a note to Gardener’s Mailbag, PO Box 864, McKinney, TX 75070 or email your questions to [email protected] Watch here for his reply.

Ask Texas Tree Surgeons: Why Do My Red Tip Photinias Have Spots on the Leaves?

The first line of defense against fungal leaf spot, as with many fungal diseases, is to monitor watering and drainage. Fungi thrive in wet conditions of a moderate temperature, so the spring and fall are when we see the most activity. In periods of wet weather, the clay soil common to much of North Texas can hamper proper drainage, causing the area around the red tip photinias to become waterlogged. This moisture, mixed with the fallen and decaying organic material creates the ideal conditions for fungal growth. Even if the soil drainage cannot be improved, it is important to curtail watering so as not to make the situation worse.

In addition to moisture, the fallen photinia leaves contribute to the growth of the Entomosporium fungus. Keeping the area around the plants clear of debris can help slow fungal progression. In a similar way, dense foliar growth on the interior of the red tip photinias can collect moisture. Where possible, thin out dense areas to allow light and air to circulate. When trimming, make sure to remove any areas already showing leaf spot. Removed material, especially infected leaves, should be buried or disposed of in a plastic bag.

Photinia Leaf Spot – Prevention And Treatment Of Common Photinia Bush Diseases

Photinias are large shrubs that grow well in the eastern portion of the United States. So well, in fact, they soon became one of the most popular hedge plants in the South. Unfortunately, with the overuse and close planting of red tipped photinia, disease wasn’t far behind and resulted in constant, yearly attacks by photinia fungus also known as photinia leaf spot. The red tips of new growth that made these shrubs so popular are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of the photinia bush diseases and over the years, photinia leaf spot has destroyed countless shrubs.

Red Tipped Photinia and Disease Symptoms

The main culprit among photinia bush diseases is Entomosporium mespili, the fungus that causes photinia leaf spot. Like most plant fungi, this one thrives in the cool, moist environment of the fall and spring and attacks the most vulnerable new growth that gives the shrub its name, red tipped photinia, and the disease spreads from there. The photinia fungus won’t kill the plant immediately or even during the first season, but will return year after year until the constant leaf drop and the depletion of nourishment that results weakens the plant to the point of death.

The first signs of photinia leaf spot are almost unnoticeable. Tiny, round red spots appear on leaf surfaces and because the leaf color of the new growth they attack, the darker red spots are easy to ignore.

In a matter of days, the spots enlarge and eventually become dark purplish circles surrounding gray, dying tissue. The photinia fungus usually spreads from new growth to old only because of the new leaves making it easier for the spores to take hold.

Once the fungus takes hold in the red tipped photinia, the disease’s circles continue to grow and merge until large unsightly ‘sores’ cover the dying leaves. The production of spores can be seen in the black blotches inside the circular damage. At this point, there is nothing to be done to keep the disease from running its course.

Recognizing Life Cycles in Photinia Bush Diseases

The red tipped photinia disease follows a definite pattern or cycle and it is important to understand this cycle for the treatment of red tip photinia and disease eradication.

The fungal spores spend the winter in fallen, infected leaves or in late emerging new growth. These spores are released into the air in late winter or early spring where they land on any nearby photinia bush. Diseases like this one tend to spread from the bottom to the top of the infected plant because the spores can’t travel that far. This inability to move any great distance is also the reason photinia leaf spot may attack a shrub in one area of the yard while another area remains untouched.

During the rainy weather of spring, the spores continue to spread through water splashing from one leaf to the next until the entire shrub is infected.

Prevention and Treatment of Common Photinia Bush Disease

Is there anything that can be done about red tip photinia disease? Yes, but it’s a matter of prevention rather than cure.

First and foremost, rake up all fallen leaves, and if the shrub is already infected, remove all affected leave and branches. Cover the area under and around the shrubs with new mulch to cover any leaf parts and photinia fungus spores that remain.

Do not repeatedly trim endangered shrubs to encourage the new red growth. Keep trimming and shearing confined to the dormant winter months and dispose of all clippings.

Consider replacing dead or dying shrubs with alternatives. A mixed hedge will be more resistant to photinia bush diseases if the susceptible shrubs are placed farther apart. Remember, the spores don’t travel very far. Stagger new plantings rather than creating the traditional wall of shrubs. This will increase light and airflow around the shrub and decrease the conditions in which the fungus thrives.

There are chemical treatments available. Chlorothalonil, propiconazole, and myclobutanil are the effective ingredients to look for in available fungicides. Be aware, however, treatment must begin early and be repeated every 7-14 days throughout late winter and spring and again in the fall when the weather cools.

Red tip photinia disease can be devastating, but with diligence and good garden housekeeping practices, the fungus can be driven from your yard.

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Sunday – October 30, 2011

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Shrubs
Title: When (and whether) to plant non-native red-tip photinia in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


With the current and forecast drought I’m wondering if the usual rules about when to plant might change. I’d like to plant red-tip photinia.


From a previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer:

“The first thing we will recommend is that you NOT use red tip photinias. The red-tip photinia is non-native to North America, originating in the Far East. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed to the planting, protection and propagation of plants native to North America. Native plants are recommended because they are adapted to an area’s soil, rainfall and climate, so requiring less water, less fertilizer, less maintenance. Here is a quote from a Mississippi State University Extension Service Red-tip Photinia Almost Eliminated

‘Red-tip is highly susceptible to the fungal pathogen known as Entomosporium that causes leaf spots and ultimately defoliation. The disease has all but eliminated Red-tip from the list of recommended shrubs for Southern landscapes. In fact, the disease is so widespread that one plant pathologist jokingly explained that there are two types of Red-tip, those that have the disease and those that are going to get it!’ “

Hopefully, you will select a native shrub that is more adapted. In terms of when to plant woody plants in Central Texas, nothing about that has changed. It is still better to plant fresh nursery stock in late Fall or Winter, when the plants are semi-dormant and will have less risk of transplant shock. Plants that are native to Central Texas have centuries of experience with hot, dry spells and alkaline, rocky soils. We suggest that you go to our Native Plant Database, use the Combination Search, on Texas, “shrub” under Habit, “dry” under Soil Moisture and other characteristics such as height and bloom you might want. You should be aware that the more specifications you search on, the fewer choices you will get, or perhaps none at all. Here are some native shrub possibilities we would suggest. Each of our suggestions is evergreen or semi-evergreen and grows naturally in Travis County.

Chrysactinia mexicana (Damianita)

Garrya ovata ssp. lindheimeri (Lindheimer’s silktassel)

Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Cenizo)

Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita)

Sophora secundiflora (Texas mountain laurel)

From the Image Gallery

Chrysactinia mexicana
Ilex vomitoria
Leucophyllum frutescens
Mahonia trifoliolata
Texas mountain laurel
Sophora secundiflora

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Red Top Photenia

December 1, 2018

My red tip photinias are dying from leaf spot disease so I am removing them. Can you suggest another bush that would provide a screen from the street?

You have several options. There are numerous species of hollies that grow large and can provide screening, including standard yaupon holly, Foster holly, lusterleaf holly or Nelly R. Stevens holly. You can also try cleyera, one of the little leaf magnolias, or one of the standard arborvitae.

September 15, 2018

We have 6 tall red leaf bushes with the large leaves. This summer they have lost almost all of their leaves. The leaves have dark brown spots and holes on them. They stand 12 feet tall. What can we do to return them to a healthy hedge? Should we cut them back, and by how much?

Your plants have a very common problem with red tip photenias called entomosporium leaf spot. It has been wiping out photenia plants across the south for years now. You have several choices. One is remove the plant and replace with something more carefree. You can also cut them back by half and then spray with a fungicide in early spring to start the season out healthy and see what happens. If they have totally defoliated from the disease, my guess is they will succumb to the disease again next season unless you are prepared to spray weekly during the growing season, which I do not recommend. I would replant with something new.

December 23, 2017

I have a short row of old red-tips. They are at least nine feet tall. I want to cut them back to about four feet tall so I can trim every year without using a ladder. Is December too early? Should I wait until later?

Red tips or red top photinias are a common landscape plant that have been used as a hedge plant for many years. In the past 20 years they have been gradually disappearing from our gardens due to a leaf spot disease. I am glad yours are doing so well. I would recommend waiting until the end of February or early March before severely pruning them back. Heavy pruning now is going to expose the plants to potential winter injury. By waiting until the bulk of the winter has passed gives you a buffer of the top growth should we get any damage. Then prune away. They should rebound fairly quickly with the burst of new growth in the spring. Do be aware that rapid new growth can be more susceptible to the disease.

September 30, 2017

Is it too late for me to trim crape myrtles and red top photinias? I also have some large woody plants that are growing around my back yard that I have cut back but they just seem to be doing better than ever. I have heard that you put salt on them to kill them. Is it rock salt, how do you do it without killing everything around it?

The time to prune crape myrtles is in February, before new growth begins. Pruning them in the fall can expose them to winter damage if we have a cold winter. The key is to get them through the bulk of the winter before pruning. If your red top photinia just needs a light trim, that is fine to do now, but severe pruning–removing more than 1/3 of the plant should be done in the spring; you don’t want to encourage too much new growth this late in the season. I do not like to use salt to kill plants, as salt will stay in the soil for a long time and can leach out and damage nearby root systems. Once you cut the trees down, you can paint the stumps with an herbicide such as Brush-B-Gon, Brush Killer or Roundup Super Concentrate. Monitor these trees next spring as new growth begins, and if you see new growth repeat the above process.

July 1, 2017

Are there still disease problems with Red Tip Photenia? If so, any other suggestions for a fast growing and tall hedge row?

The leaf spot disease is a problem that is not going to go away on photenias and for that reason, I don’t recommend planting them. Some other options include holly – Nellie R. Stevens, foster or luster leaf, cleyera, eleagnus, Chindo viburnum, or Little Gem magnolia.

April 30, 2016

I have a row of red tipped photinia that are a living fence in my back yard. They were an excellent screen for years, but I have had some problem with a leaf spot disease and those plants are thin. Others have all their foliage at the top with just twiggy growth at the base. I would like to cut them back so they’ll bush out nearer to the ground and function once again as a screening hedge and get rid of the disease. How severely can I cut them back without harming them and will this control the disease? How long will it take for them to fill back in? Should I spray with something for the disease, and should I fertilize to help them grow back? If so, with what?

Red top photinia were the most popular hedge plant in the south for years, but entomosporium leaf spot has been thinning out the population for over twenty years. The disease has a purple to red spot filled with a gray center. Some existing plants do not have the disease, but that can change. If you are planning on removing more than a third of the growth, which it sounds like you are, you need to do so quickly. I would have preferred to do so in late February through early April to allow more recovery time. Severe pruning can encourage rapid, tender new growth which can be more sensitive to the leaf spot disease. Sterilize your pruning shear between pruning cuts because you can spread the disease mechanically with your pruning shears. As new growth begins, make sure that the top of the hedges always stays a bit narrower than the base to allow sunlight to get to all parts of the plant ensuring foliage from the top of the plants to the bottom. If disease is not a factor, they should fill back in quickly. Broadcast a light application of fertilizer around the plants and water it in when done pruning. I really don’t recommend regular spray schedules, but you can apply a general fungicide such as Daconil after you prune to help prevent diseases, and then see what happens. If they don’t respond the way you want, or the disease gets worse, consider replacing them with something else.

July 2006

I have heavy infestation of my Fraser’s Photinia hedge with black spot on the leaves. Not all bushes are infected but those that are, seem to be very heavily spotted. Any quick cure? Can they be saved? Any help would be appreciated.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a quick cure for entomosporium leaf spot of red top photenias. This leaf spotting disease is quite similar to black spot on roses and would need weekly preventative spray programs for total control–not worth the effort in my opinion. You can spray two to three times in early spring before the disease kicks in for the season with a fungicide such as Immunox or Daconil, but if they were my bushes, I would start planting a more disease free hedge nearby and gradually replace them. WE have been losing red tops across the south for twenty years now and they are not worth the effort.

July 2008

I have a question about red tip photinias. I planted them hoping that they would be ten to 15 feet tall. I think they are probably a little taller than fifteen feet now. I’m concerned that they will get taller. They are down the hill from a septic tank. I’m sure that has played a part in their rapid growth. The ones on the other side of the yard are about half as tall. Do you think I’m about to end up with freakishly tall shrubs?

The common red top photinia doesn’t usually grow much taller than twenty feet, and that’s provided it doesn’t get the dreaded leaf spot disease. It shouldn’t get much larger than it is now.

March 2005

I need your help. We have cut down most of our red-tips because of the fungus. I have fought it for so long and now it has spread to all of them and we had so many. Now we want to replace them and we don’t know what to put there. We would like something that grows well with no disease problems. I thought you might have some suggestions.

Redtop photenias have really been hit hard by the leaf spot fungus and are dying across the south. You are wise to stop fighting it, and replace. There are numerous options. You can use Nelly R. Stephens holly, Foster Holly, Elaeagnus, Green Giant Arborvitae, winter honeysuckle, and cherry laurel, just to name a few. Visit with your local nursery and look at the plants, and see which ones you like best.

November 2005

I have several red tops along with some holly bushes against the front of my home. I lost one red top this summer and I dug it up completely and made a circular flower bed where I planted summer annuals. It was pretty this summer but now with winter coming on I need to put something more permanent in to balance things out. I would like some evergreen, holly or something that stands about five feet high. Is it too late to plant hollies now? I saw one that started with an F, but I can’t remember what it was.

It is not too late to plant. Fall is an ideal time to plant hardy trees and shrubs. Red top photenias have been dying across the south for years now with the leaf spot disease, or the weakening of the plant. Replacing them with tougher plants is often a good idea. By all means, you can still plant now. Keep in mind that many of our plants are container grown these days. Container grown plants can actually be planted twelve months out of the year, as long as you water. Fall is much better than summer in my opinion, so plant away. You probably saw a Foster Holly.

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Black spot on red tip photinia

Thank you for your question about your photinia. There is a great ‘sister question’ from a gardener in Benton County that answers your question about the disease, and has links to some control mechanisms and effective chemicals. Lilly Miller Kop-R-Spray (from copper ammonium complex) is actually not approved for use on photinia, nor is it listed as being effective against the fungus Entomosporium maculatum, which is the source of the black spot.
If the cultural controls listed in the Clemson U. article, above, are not effective, the chemical controls recommended are chlorothalonil, propiconazole and muclobutanil. (The commercial brand names are listed there as well.) As the article suggests, this requires spraying every 2 to 3 weeks.
As to your pruning question, these cultural control suggestions are pertinent:
” Prune red tips in the winter when they are dormant. Pruning during the growing season will encourage new growth, which is highly susceptible to attack by the fungus. Mature leaves are more resistant to leaf spot.

  • Rake up and discard fallen leaves, and remove infected plant material. Apply fresh mulch around plants to cover any leaves that were missed. These practices reduce the amount of fungus present in the spring, resulting in less infection.
  • Provide excellent air circulation. This often means thinning out a few plants in a hedge.
  • Avoid wetting the leaves when watering. Splashing water spreads the fungus.
  • Avoid summer fertilization that will promote new growth late in the season.

BTW, here’s a to an article about Lilly Miller Kop-R-Spray that you might find interesting. Six years old, but some information is still relevant.
Hope this is helpful. Good luck!

Shrub Bushes

yew hedge outside a church image by L. Shat from

How to Prune Yew Shrubs

Yew shrubs grow easily in sun or shade and are one of the easier evergreen shrubs to prune. Without regular pruning, they can grow rapidly and look “wild.” Unlike other evergreen shrubs, which only form new buds on young wood, yew shrubs can be pruned back to old wood. They will then regrow back from the old wood. Pruning should be done in late winter, so the shrub fills out nicely with spring’s new growth.

Prune off branches that cross through the shrub or grow at sharp angles compared to the rest of the branches. Thin the yew shrub out by selectively removing thicker branches. You want sunlight to reach the middle of the plant.

Trim the ends of the branches to even the yew shrub out. Strive for a shrub that is wider at the base than the top. This allows sunlight to reach the bottom, which keeps the shrub full and lush.

Round out the top of the shrub to help with winter snow loads. A flat top can be damaged after a heavy snowfall. Trim the shrub after the new growth finishes flushing. Use a hedge trimmer to even things out to keep your yew shrub looking great all summer.

How to Buy Shrubs & Trees

How to Plant Shrubs in Winter

Choose shrubs that are native to your area, as they are more likely to grow well. Pay close attention to the color of the shrub’s leaves, looking for good color and leaf form. Inspect the shrub’s root system, if it is not covered, and look for roots that appear damaged.

Choose an area rich in native soil. A properly-balanced location will not need any soil amendments. However, if the location is heavy with gravel, it may be necessary to add peat or compost to provide a proper growing environment.

Dig a planting hole that is wide and shallow, allowing room for roots to grow. The planting hole should be three times as wide as the shrub’s root balls. Expose the root ball if it is covered with burlap, then firmly place the specimen into the hole. Provide plenty of loose soil for root balls to expand. Remember that roots grow outward. Fill the planting hole with native soil, being careful to remove air pockets.

Apply mulch and begin a watering regimen. If the planting site is in a particularly dry area, receiving less than an inch of rain per week, use a soaking hose to water the area. Wait until the spring to apply fertilizer.

How to Find Free Trees, Shrubs & Plants

How to Kill Shrubs

Remove all the branches with leaves from the shrub with a pruning saw or pruning shears. Shrubs need photosynthesis to live. By removing all the branches with foliage, you are taking the first step to killing the shrub.

Paint a non-selective herbicide that contains the active ingredient glyphosate on the cut ends of the branches.

Dig up the stump of the shrub. Dig around the shrub 2 feet from the trunk. Remove soil as necessary and work your shovel down and under the shrub stump. After it’s adequately loosened the stump will pull out.

Lay down black landscape fabric over the shrub’s former location for a few weeks. If there are any living roots left in the ground, the fabric will prevent them from accessing sunlight and they will quickly die out.

How to Cut Back Shrubs

Prune shrubs in the late winter to early spring before new growth begins. During this time, it’s easier to prune without leaves and buds obstructing the plant-branch arrangement.

Using pruning shears, thin out the tallest and oldest stems first. This will lead to hearty branch development. Pruning shears can cut up to 3/4 inches in diameter and are ideal for shrubs.

Hardy shrubs such as hydrangeas should be cut back to the first pair of buds. Cut the branch at its point of origin from the main stem, resulting in a more open plant without promoting excessive new growth, which can make the plant top heavy.

Prune deciduous shrubs by thinning branches of any broken or crossed roots. Cut back dead branches that have been infected by disease and insects.

How to Identify Flowering Shrubs


Step 1

Identify azaleas by the vibrant flowers that cluster. The foliage stays green all year and blooms in the spring. The flowers are tubelike and come in many different colors. Azalea bushes also get very large, enabling the user to plant them as privacy hedges and to cover home foundations.

Step 2

See the butterflies flock to the butterfly bush. This small bush has colorful flowers that bloom in a cone shape, and butterflies love the nectar from these flowers. The cone-shaped flowers also look like butterflies in the wind.

Step 3

Spot a lilac bush by the fragrant purple, red or white flowers that bloom on the sprig. The flowers are small, and in small clusters, which creates a large group of flowers along the end of the stem. The flowers bloom in late spring and continue until mid- to late June. The lilac bush can either be trimmed to stay smaller or pruned to grow into trees. The scent of the lilac bush can be smelled from a long distance, and is so strong that it is used often in perfumes and incense.

Step 4

Identify oleander bushes by the large showy flowers in vibrant colors in the spring. The flowers also have a fairly long tube with flower petals up to 1 inch long. The oleander bush is preferred for its ease of pruning into shapes or use as a privacy hedge when allowed to grow large. The oleander stays green throughout the year; however, this plant can be toxic if ingested, so is not recommended for households with pets or children.

Bushes That Grow in a Little Light

Rhododendron and evergreen azaleas bushes are two of the most popular shrubs for light to medium shade locations. Both offer varieties in a wide range of colorful blooms and be grown in USDA zones 7 to 10. Holly, barberry, boxwood and yew shrubs are excellent shade evergreen selections that not only provide year-round greenery, but produce bright red berries that draw birds to your yard. Mugo pine, several cypresses and firs are other good shade-loving evergreen shrubs.


Many of the shade-loving deciduous shrubs will also produce beautiful and fragrant flowers. Popular deciduous shrubs for shaded areas in your yard are blueberry, chokecherry, cotoneaster varieties, honeysuckle, forsythia, hydrangea varieties, privet, spicebush and snowberry.

Dwarf Shrubs

Many shrubs will grow quite large, eight or more feet tall, and just as wide. In most landscapes the areas that are in shade, but in need of a shrub or two, are not expansive spaces and smaller shrubs are more desirable and needed. This is when a dwarf variety of a shade-loving shrub should be considered. A dwarf shrub usually only grows to a height of around four feet, and can be easily pruned to keep it small. Spirea varieties, verburnum varieties and the unusual and attractive species, weigela shrubs are the most popular dwarf shrubs for homeowners.

How to Transplant Daphne Shrubs

Locate a new spot in your yard for the daphne shrub. It needs shade and well-drained soil.

Water the shrub in its present location three days before digging it up, so the soil will be moist when the shrub is removed.

Excavate a trench around the Daphne shrub 12 inches wide as well as 12 inches deep, so you can remove the root ball intact.

Raise the root ball carefully out of the hole as to not harm it. Wrap the root ball in damp burlap. Carry the shrub by the root ball, not the trunk, to the new location. Place on an old sheet or in a wagon if it is too heavy.

Dig a hole in the new location three times the size of the root ball. Position the root ball in the hole at the same depth as in the previous site.

Refill the hole halfway with soil. Cut open the burlap and complete refilling the hole. Water deeply until the water puddles on top to re-establish the roots in the new site.

How to Train Shrubs to Tree Form

Select a strong and straight growing stem to be the main stem on your 1-year-old shrub.

Remove all other branches by pruning them as close to the main stem as possible.

Clip the tip off of the main stem to stimulate lateral branch growth at the top of the shrub.

Hammer a stake into the ground as close to the main stem as possible and tie the stem to the stake.

Remove any buds that appear below the top group of buds. Simply pick them off.

How to Trim Shrubs in the Fall

Sharpen your pruning shears to avoid bruising the shrub.

Mix a solution containing 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. Use the solution to sterilize your pruning shears between each cut on the shrubs to avoid the spread of diseases.

Plan your entire pruning process before you make your first cut. This will help to ensure that you don’t remove too many branches or the wrong branches.

Remove all diseased, broken or dead branches.

Remove weak or spindly growth.

Remove branches that rub one another or cross the central canopy.

Thin the canopy of densely growing shrubs. This will allow the lower limbs to get more light and develop more fully.

How to Cut Shrubs

Prune shrubs in the late winter to early spring before new growth occurs. During this period, it’s easier to prune without leaves and buds obstructing the plant-branch arrangement.

Use pruning shears to thin out the tallest and oldest stems first. This will encourage hardy branch development. Pruning shears have the capability of cutting up to 3/4 inches in diameter and are ideal for shrubs.

Prune back hardy shrubs, such as butterfly bushes, to the first pair of buds. Cut the branch at its point of origin from the main part of the stem. This will create a more open plant without promoting excessive new growth, which can cause the plant to be top heavy.

Prune deciduous shrubs by thinning branches of all broken or crossed roots, which can affect the growth of the shrub. Cut back dead branches that have been infected by insects and disease.

Can I Trim My Shrubs in November?

Holly shrub. image by LiteWave from <a href=’’></a>

You can trim many shrubs in November. Light pruning can be done anytime of the year. Severe pruning should be done in winter to early spring so that new growth does not occur before the warm weather arrives. However, some shrubs, like azaleas, should be pruned immediately after they finish flowering. If you cut them back in November, you most likely will remove the next year’s flower buds.

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Sunday – March 29, 2009

From: San Antonio, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Problems with red tip photinia in San Antonio
Answered by: Barbara Medford

I have a red tip photinia that’s about 20 years old and about 20 feet high–it is big! I noticed last summer the highest leaves looked droopy all the time even with deep watering and now that portion of the bush has turned brown–about 15% of the bush. Did it just experience dieback because of heat and lack of water? Now, although that portion is brown the rest of the new growth looks healthy and it is flowering. Should I just mulch and apply manure and be more diligent about watering from now on? or could it be a systemic disease? there are 2 more just like it next to it and they are fine. they are the green screen for my house and I would hate to lose that one bush. thank you!

In this Mississippi State University Extension Service Red-tip Photinia Almost Eliminated, you may learn what is wrong with your plant. Here is an excerpt from that article:

“Red-tip is highly susceptible to the fungal pathogen known as Entomosporium that causes leaf spots and ultimately defoliation. The disease has all but eliminated Red-tip from the list of recommended shrubs for Southern landscapes. In fact, the disease is so widespread that one plant pathologist jokingly explained that there are two types of Red-tip, those that have the disease and those that are going to get it! So, even though newly planted Red-tip bushes may stay disease free for many years, ultimately they will succumb to the inevitable.”

Frankly, we’re amazed that your photinias have lived as long as they have. Even when they are not infected with the pathogen, they are not ordinarily a long-lived shrub. The fact that they grow very fast is, of course, considered an advantage when you are landscaping a new property; unfortunately, fast growing woody plants seldom live very long, have weak wood and are frequently subject to pests and diseases.

The scientific name for this plant is Photinia x fraseri, the “x” meaning it is a hybrid. Photinia, itself, originated in China and Japan. These two facts mean that it is not a native to North America, and therefore out of our range of expertise. We can tell you a couple things we picked up in our research: The first is that mulching, watering and applying compost is probably counter-productive as that can encourage the fungi that are causing the problem. The second is that the bushes would probably profit from being severely cut back. Of course, that would diminish their use as screen plants and might not deter nor slow down the diseases that attack this plant.

So, what to do? As noted above, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center we are dedicated to the care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which the plants grow naturally. You will probably want to maintain your screen plants as long as you can, but if and when they give out, we suggest you replace them with some excellent evergreen screen plants native to Central Texas, and much less disease-prone. We will list some of these, you can follow the plant links to the individual page for each plant, and learn what height they can be expected to reach, how hardy they are, etc.

Evergreen screen plants for Central Texas

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon)

Leucophyllum frutescens (Texas barometer bush)

Rhus virens (evergreen sumac)

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

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Homeowners have favorite plants. At one time, it was red tips (Photinia x fraseri). It’s an evergreen and fast-growing shrub. The new flush of growth is bright red and thrives in a range of growing conditions. You could do almost anything to it, and it would just keep growing.

Eventually, something went wrong.

The culprit that put an end to rampant red tip plantings was a fungus that caused entomosporium leaf spot. Clearly, a scientist named the disease since most people can’t remember or pronounce it. However, the fungus (Entomosporium maculatum) produces a spore shaped sort of like an insect, thus the name.

Leaf spot diseases are caused by a variety of pathogens, and most are harmless. Hydrangeas, dogwoods, sweetgums and crape myrtles are riddled this time of year with leaf spots caused by various fungi.

The hosts typically drop infected leaves earlier than normal without affecting its health. Most recommendations are to avoid treating the disease since the plants are about to naturally drop their leaves anyway.

If the spots are bothersome, the leaves can be removed from the area to reduce overwintering fungus, or preventive fungicide applications can be started next August (the timing depends on the disease and the host). Otherwise, the diseases aren’t a problem.

However, entomosporium is different from most leaf spot diseases. First, it’s host specific, primarily infecting red tips and Indian hawthorns. And second, it can kill the host.

On red tips, the disease appears as circular red spots. Maturing spots are gray in the center with a red border. The spots are more prolific on lower leaves because spores are spread via water, primarily splashing rain and irrigation.

Not all red tips have the disease. Some appear healthy and may even tolerate some level of infection and can do so for many years.

If you have red tips like this, avoid shearing during the spring when the disease is most active. Wounding opens avenues for spores to penetrate. It is preferable to prune during the winter. Remove any clippings or fallen leaves to avoid overwintering fungus.

Also, avoid wetting the leaves to reduce leaf moisture. Avoid fertilization that encourages new, susceptible growth. Red tips grow so fast they shouldn’t need irrigation or fertilizer.

Red tips can’t be replaced with red tips, nor should they. Garden centers stopped selling the shrubs because of the disease. Some avid gardeners propagate the shrub, but the disease will continue to be a problem.

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There are numerous substitutes for red tip. Camellias are smaller and slower growing and flower in the winter. Tea olives get large and produce fragrant flowers throughout the winter. Cherry laurels and cleyera are good evergreen shrubs with waxy foliage. Viburnums are another hardy substitute.

But let’s not forget Indian hawthorns. These foundation shrubs also are overused and will exhibit symptoms. While the disease is not as severe on Indian hawthorns as it is on red tips, it can cause significant problems under the right conditions.

Avoid unnecessarily wetting the foliage with irrigation and plant in full sun where leaves can dry. Avoid frequently shearing during the growing season that can open wounds for infection.

Unlike red tips, disease-resistant Indian hawthorns have been developed. In general, white flowering cultivars are more resistant than those with pink flowers. However, there are specific cultivars that have demonstrated good to excellent disease-resistance, such as Clara, Indian Princess, Georgia Petite, Georgia Charm and Snow White. When purchasing an Indian hawthorn, check the tag for disease resistance.

Since entomosporium is host specific, another approach to avoiding the disease is to substitute a different species. Consider planting dwarf hollies, rosemary, abelia, plum yew, or dwarf nandina.

Tony Bertauski is a horticulture instructor at Trident Technical College. To give feedback, email him at [email protected]

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