Q: I was recently in a nursery looking for a red tip photinia to plant along a fence. They advised me that they hadn’t carried them in years. Is this true?
A: It is true that red tip photinia is rarely sold in nurseries now. The reason is that forty years ago photinia was planted by the millions in the metro Atlanta area. Homeowners sheared them in winter so the striking red new growth would emerge in spring. But it turned out that the new growth was extremely susceptible to a deadly leaf spot. When the fungus infected a shrub it was very difficult to control and it spread throughout any photinias that were planted nearby. Nurseries got tired of replacing the shrub and so they stopped selling them. There are other shrubs, like holly and arborvitae, that are better screening plants and that are not so disease susceptible.