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Australian Grow Guide: Photinia Red Robin

Photinias are hardy plants once they’re well established and this is one of the reasons that they’re so popular with Australian gardeners. They are drought and frost tolerant and resistant to most pests and diseases.

Photinia Red Robin is a popular hedging plant here in Australia. It has dark green oval leaves and responds well to regular pruning. The most stunning characteristic of this plant is its bright red new foliage that appears in spring.

Pruning your Photinias regularly in winter will enhance the display of the bright red new shoots and leaves.

The plants will also produce dense heads of creamy, white flowers. These are best pruned off because they have an unpleasant scent and can trigger hay fever and sinusitis.

However, if you prune your Photinias regularly every winter, you’re unlikely to get many flowers. This is because the plant will be focusing on producing lots of that lovely red growth.

Photinia Red Robin flowers | Plant care

How to prepare the soil before planting

Photinia Red Robin prefers a sunny position in the garden. However, it can handle some afternoon shade. The soil should be well-drained and have some added organic matter.

To improve the structure and drainage capabilities, add some compost and gypsum to clay soils and dig it in well. It’s also a good idea to incorporate some Dynamic Lifter into the soil to give your plants a good start.

How to plant your Photinia Red Robin

Once you’ve prepared the soil, dig a planting hole for each plant. This should be twice as wide and as deep as the plant’s root ball in the pot. For a nice dense hedge, space your plants around 60 to 80 cm apart.

planting holes garden | Plant care

When your planting holes are ready, take each plant out of its pot and gently tease out the roots. You can trim off any roots that are circling and it won’t harm the plant.

Place each plant in its planting hole and backfill it with soil. Firm the soil down gently to secure the plant. Create a moat around the base of each plant and fill this with water. The moat keeps the water in place until it drains down into the soil.

Place a layer of mulch around the base of your plants but keep it away from the trunks.

How to care for your Photinia Red Robin

Photinias are hardy plants once they’re well established and this is one of the reasons that they’re so popular with Australian gardeners. They are drought and frost tolerant and resistant to most pests and diseases.

Photinia Red Robin 4 | Plant care

Watering

After planting your Photinia Red Robins, you should water them once or twice a week depending on how much rainfall you’re getting.

Once your plants are happily settled into their new home, they shouldn’t need any supplemental watering unless you’re experiencing extended periods of dry weather.

Feeding

Photinia plants should be fed twice a year in spring and autumn. You can use a general fertiliser such as Dynamic Lifter for this.

This will help the plants to establish a strong root system and will encourage lots of healthy new growth.

Photinia Red Robin hedge | Plant care

Pruning

Keeping your Photinia Red Robin well-pruned is highly recommended. Especially if you want that gorgeous red growth in spring. For the first year of growth, only tip prune your plants to help them bush out nicely.

Tip pruning is a method of pruning plants that involves cutting the tips or ends off branches to encourage the plant to grow in a specific direction or to improve its overall shape.

After that, you can prune your photinia in late autumn or winter with hedge shears to create a nice neat hedge shape. Trim both the tops and the sides to the shape that you want. 

During their growing season in spring and summer, it’s perfectly safe to lightly trim your plants in order to keep them under control and looking nice and neat.

Photinia Red Robin 3 | Plant care

Problems, pests and diseases

In general, a well-managed and cared-for Photinia Red Robin is not prone to any problems with pests and diseases.

However, because these plants belong to the rose family, if they’re neglected, they can succumb to fungal problems such as fungal leaf spot and powdery mildew.

If you notice a bit of fungal disease on your plants, just prune off the affected leaves and spray your plants with an all-purpose fungicide.

The only pests that you might see on your Photinia Red Robin are scale and spider mites. These can easily be controlled by spraying your plant with a pest oil such as white oil or neem.

How to grow Photinia Red Robin in pots

Photinias are also suited to growing in pots, especially the Red Robin variety as it is slightly smaller growing than some of the other varieties. This makes them ideal for use as a screening plant around your outdoor area.

Choose a large pot for your Photinia at least 30 cm in diameter but larger is better. Make sure that the pot has adequate drainage so any excess water can easily drain away. You can plant up a few and place them side by side if you want to screen off part of your garden.

Use a good-quality potting mix that has added fertiliser to grow your Photinias. The planting procedure is the same as when you’re planting in the ground. You can even place some mulch on top of the soil in the pot to help conserve moisture.

Potted Photinia Red Robins will need more attention when it comes to watering. This is because the soil in the pot will dry out much faster than the soil in your garden. Therefore, you should ensure that you water your plants at least once a week or whenever the top 5cm of soil is dry.

To give your potted Photinias adequate nutrients, use a slow-release fertiliser in spring. This should last well for at least six months or so. 

Make sure that you flush the soil at least once a month to get rid of any accumulated salts from the fertiliser. To flush the soil, just water deeply until you see the excess water drain out from the bottom of the pot. 

Prune your Photinias just as you would if they were growing in the ground.

Photinia Red Robin FAQ

Are Photinia Red Robin fast-growing?

Photinia Red Robin is fairly fast-growing. It grows around 30 cm each year.

Is Photinia Red Robin an Australian native?

Photinia Red Robin is a cultivar of Photinia fraseri which is native to the warm, temperate areas of Asia including Japan, India, and Thailand.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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