A small group of mainly evergreen shrubs, grown for their attractive bright red spring foliage and white flowers. A good low maintenance shrub that is very popular as hedging or as a standard specimen plant.
Family: Rosaceae (rose family)
Botanical Name: Photinia
Common Names: Christmas berry
Foliage: Glossy evergreen leaves, bright red when young. Variegated forms are available.
Flowers: Clusters or panicles of small white flowers, followed by small red fruits.
Flowering Period: April
Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (clay, sand or loam). Acid or neutral pH. Some forms will tollerate alkaline (chalk) soil.
Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Can be grown in any aspect, in a sheltered or exposed location.
Type: Medium-sized evergreen shrub.
Origin: South and East Asia and North and central America
Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK. Young shoots can be damaged by late frost.
Plant outside in early autumn or spring. Container grown plants can be planted out at any reasonable time of year.
Best grow in an open sunny position, in a well drained, moderately fertile, humus-rich soil. Dislikes very heavy clay. Shelter young shoots from strong cold winds.
Water thoroughly during dry weather until well established. Mulch with organic matter in spring and apply a general fertilizer suitable for shrubs.
Dead head after flowering. Old growth can be cut back in summer, once it has lost its colour, to encourage new red growth to appear.
Susceptible to attack by vine weevils.
Can be affected by fireblight and a leaf spot.
Take semi-ripe stem cuttings in late summer and root with a little bottom heat. Alternatively layer low branches in autumn.
The only variety really worth growing in the garden is P. x fraseri. A tough plant that is able to withstand drought, neglect and pollution. There are a few deciduous species such as P. beauverdiana and P. villosa but these are rarely available from garden centres.
Photinia x fraseri 'Pink Marble' is a very attractive variegated form. The young leaves are red with grades of pink variegation, fading to green margined with white. Creamy-white flowers in spring. Available at Suttons.
Photinia x fraseri 'Red Robin' is the most popular variety. The young shoots and leaves remain bright red over a long period, eventually turning a dark glossy green. Height to 6ft (2m), spread 8ft (2.4m).
Photinia x fraseri 'Robusta' has coppery red new growth. A tough vigorous shrub that can be grown as a large bush, hedge or a small tree. Height to 20ft (6m).
Photinia serratifolia 'Pink Crispy' (Chinese hawthorn) is a recently introduced cultivar. The new shoots are bright pink, finely-toothed (serrated), fading to green with a pretty white mottling. Forms a bushy, upright medium height shrub. Height to 6ft (1.8m), spread 3ft (90cm).