The hedges form the great attraction of the garden, separating separate spaces and covering with their great density of leaves parts that in winter are somewhat bare and dull the environment. One of them with an ideal predisposition for pruning is the genus Photinia or fotinia, a medium-height hedge with reddish and green hues of great ornamental appeal.
Within the different types of hedges, this genus is very adapted to the western garden and environments of medium and high relative humidity. It is common to see it as a separation space between single-family houses in North American neighborhoods, although it is perfectly adapted to the European continent and the humid climate of Southeast Asia.
In this article we focus on knowing a little more about the Photinia plant genus and discovering all the possibilities that its cultivation offers us in our garden, since it is an evergreen species that resists a wide range of temperatures very well.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PHOTINIA OR FOTINIA PLANT
The genus Photinia encompasses a medium range of plants with different growth habits. One of them, and the one that most attractive general ornamental as a kind of hedge for the garden is Photinia x fraseri or also known as Photinia Red Robin , given its leaves of very attractive reddish tones.
This species comes from the hydribo Photinia glabra x Photinia serrulata, and is one of the most commercialized species worldwide of the entire genus.
APPEARANCE AND DIMENSIONS
Photinias are shrubs that can exceed several meters in height, but are generally pruned to prevent vertical growth. It has leaves that grow alternately on the stem, slightly toothed and with a size that does not exceed 5 cm in width and 10 cm in length.
In environments with medium climates and mild temperatures, Photinia does not usually shed its leaves, although it will if it faces freezing temperatures during the fall and winter months. Its flowering is intense and highly attractive, as it produces many small white flowers . When they fertilize, they produce fruits that remain on the plant throughout the winter and are easily dispersed through the feeding of birds.
- Order: Rosales
- Family: Rosaceae
- Genus: Photinia
- Species: Photinia x fraseri
PHOTINIA SPECIES MOST USED AT THE ORNAMENTAL LEVEL
Within the genus Photinia we find perennial and deciduous species . For ornamental use, deciduous species are usually used, although if your geographical area is very cold, you should choose any of the species of the genus that are deciduous.
The most common for ornamental use are the following:
- Photinia × fraseri ( P. glabra × P. serrulata )
- Photinia ‘Redstart’ ( P. davidiana × P. x fraseri )
- Photinia ‘Palette’
- Photinia davidiana ‘Fructu Luteo’
- Photinia davidiana ‘Prostrata’
The great attraction of these species is the change in color that their leaves show depending on the weather and the season of the year. In spring and summer, it usually has reddish tones. However, perennial species show a green leaf during winter.
PHOTINIA X FRASERI GROWING GUIDE IN GARDEN AND POTS
LOCATION AND WEATHER
Actually, we can grow Phonitia x fraseri in pots, especially in large containers, to create different pieces in the entrance of the house or on the porch. They adapt very well to pruning and this allows us to have them cultivated in this way for many years.
Temperature: they adapt very well to a wide range of temperatures, but prefer mild summers to excessively high temperatures (especially in dry areas). Perennial species can lose their leaves in areas with very cold winters.
Lighting: it is grown in full sun and in environments with very good lighting, although they can grow perfectly in semi-shadow areas.
Environments: coexists better in slightly humid environments compared to very dry areas.
IDEAL SOIL TYPE FOR PHOTINIA
The different species of Photinia can be grown in any type of soil , regardless of its texture, pH or even in environments with a tendency to salinity. It is advisable to have a loose soil compared to those that are flooded or prone to drainage problems. It has a preference for limestone soils.
Applications of organic matter before transplanting and at the beginning of autumn improve root development and favor greater sprouting in the spring months.
IRRIGATION AND FERTILIZER CHARACTERISTICS
Phonitia x fraseri usually requires a moderate amount of water, but always avoiding any possible ponding . We will have to closely monitor the drainage capacity of our soil and its modification with compost and sand in case of problems.
Automated drip irrigation is common, as it is a practical way to wet the entire wet bulb with good use of the irrigation water. A common plan distributed according to the seasons of the year is the following:
- Irrigation in spring and summer: 3 to 4 irrigations during the warmer seasons, with a duration of 40 to 50 minutes of irrigation, for drippers of 3 to 4 L / h.
- Irrigation in autumn and winter: 2 irrigations per week, with an irrigation time of 30 to 40 minutes, for drippers of 3 to 4 L / h.
The application of nitrogen-rich fertilizers is recommended during the sprouting phases, in early spring. If we observe a lack of development, the use of liquid compost or worm castings is also recommended, especially in very sandy soils with a lack of nutrient retention.
During spring and summer, 1 out of 3 irrigations will provide nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizers (NPK 3-1-2 ratio), at a general dose of 1 ml / liter of water. If we do not have fertilizer injection equipment, we can use granulated fertilizers, providing 300 grams per plant at the beginning of summer and reapplying after 30 days.
The simplest method of propagation of Photinia is easily carried out by means of seeds , from the collection and drying of its fruit, containing the seed inside. They are generally sown in fall in mild climates, or in early spring in colder areas.
Likewise, we can multiply the hybrid by selecting a good quality cutting, a stem formed that same year with a length of 10 to 15 cm, which we will propagate grown in a pot with peat substrate, maintaining constant humidity until the formation of the first roots.
This cutting is usually selected in early spring, although we can also do it in early autumn.
HOW TO PRUNE
This hedge is very well suited to pruning, so the method of trimming the stems will depend on the objective sought. Pot-grown photinia is usually pruned to give it a circular appearance. However, if we want to make a straight hedge, we will prune by forming a rectangle with right angles.
This operation is usually carried out in early spring or late autumn, before the arrival of the cold.
PLAGUES AND DISEASES
The usual pests of this type of hedge of the Rosaceae family are related to sucking insects of natural occurrence in the garden. The most common are the following:
- Cottony mealybugs : located on the stems and easily identifiable by their appearance. They constantly weaken the bush, so they must be removed quickly.
- Aphids: appear in the spring months, coinciding with the budding and formation of new leaves.
- Mites: in summer conditions, high temperatures and low humidity, they cause spots in the form of chlorotic points on the leaves. The most common is the spider mite.
All of these insects are usually treated through foliar applications with potassium soap or neem oil. It is important to be patient and make a minimum of 3 applications with a distance between treatments of 5 days, since they are usually difficult to eliminate, especially mealybugs.
As for diseases , it is not usual for them to affect Photinia , except in the case of very waterlogged soils and with a lack of oxygen, where fungi such as Phytophthora , Rhizoctonia and others proliferate . They affect the roots and the base of the stem, blocking the sap channels and rapidly drying out the plant, especially in conditions of heat stress and lack of water.