Photinias – Preventing Leaf Spots

Q: I have a line of red tip photinias in my back yard. The shrubs on the southern end are in real good shape with very few leaf spots. The shrubs in the other end of the line are in pretty bad shape. Besides spraying fungicide to treat the spots on my shrubs, is there anything else I can do?

A: The key to healthy red tip photinias is to grow them in full sunshine and never prune them. The fungus that causes the leaf spot loves wet leaves. Your plants on the north end of the line probably stay a little more wet than the others and that has made a big difference. If you prune your photinias every spring, the new leaves are very susceptible to fungal infection. I commonly see large, unpruned photinias that have no spots at all.

If you must prune them, do so in mid-summer. Use only hand pruners or a lopper to remove big limbs, never shears. In this way, the leaves will stay dry and you’ll avoid a flush of new growth. You can use fungicide sprays for a couple of years to arrest the spread of the disease but try my suggestions for long term success with these shrubs.