Q: An arborist has identified the tree at the front corner of my house as a Chinese plant with “serrulota” in the name. How and when should it be cut back?
A: You have Chinese photinia, Photinia serrulata. It is a cousin to Japanese photinia, Photinia glabra, and to the hybrid Photinia x fraseri that we call “red-tip photinia”. Like red-tip photinia, Chinese photinia is susceptible to the virulent leaf spot disease that can defoliate a shrub in no time. For that reason, I recommend you wait until June to prune. There’s less rain then, which would keep leaves wet and exacerbate disease development. Make all of your pruning cuts at the point where the removed limb originates from another; avoid leaving stubs.