Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Trouble With Photinia

Photinia are great plants.  Big, bushy and fast growing, they make an excellent hedgerow.  Their new growth is a gorgeous shade of red, which adds interest to the wall of green.  They're also evergreens, which makes them great as privacy screens.

Our house came with a lovely photinia hedge.  Unfortunately, the previous owners had inexplicably planted right it up against the south wall of the garage, blocking the windows.

The garage windows provide a nice view of our property and also let sunlight into the garage.  They weren't meant to be blocked.  The photinia needed to be pruned.  Photinia will take a pretty severe pruning, so that wasn't really a problem.  I pruned the first two back last spring, but when I got to the third plant, I found a bird's nest.  I couldn't chop down the bird's house, so the hedge was lopsided for a year.  It looked pretty silly, as you can see in the above photo.

The bird's nest.

This year, I got out early to prune, before the birds started building nests.  I was able to make the first two that I had pruned last year into something neat and tidy.  Not so much the third one.  It looks like I hacked it up with a sawsall.  Which is what I actually did, but still.

I really didn't like cutting down that hedge, but it just doesn't belong where it is.  A big, beautiful hedge like that belongs out in the landscape where it can grow and be appreciated, not planted in front of windows where it will have to be severely pruned every year.  We may try digging the bushes out and re-locating them.  We have a tractor with a backhoe attachment to do the work, but I'm worried about damaging the bushes or the garage while getting them out. 

It may not matter at all, though.  As I was pruning the edge I noticed some spots on the leaves.  I'm not sure, but I think it may be the dreaded Photinia blight.

Photinia are particularly susceptible to Entomosporium blight.  It can be very difficult to treat, and the prognosis is usually grim. The best way to prevent blight is to promote good air circulation in the plant.  Like, not planting blight prone species too close together or up against a wall.  If it turns out that these plants have it, I'll probably just rip them out and replace them with roses.  We'll see how they do this year....


  1. I think you should rip them out and replace them with roses anyway. Roses would be so pretty against the garage. They like walls. They don't block windows. And there is nothing prettier than looking out a window and seeing a rose nodding there. I've gotten pretty hard hearted about my plants. They have to thrive, and work well, where they are planted or they become compost.

  2. I have never cared for photinia, I guess because they are rarely used correctly. The after looks much better! But it will be work to keep them short. I like your roses idea!

  3. I love photinia in spring, that new growth is so cheerful and bright. However, you are right, your garage looks much better without it.


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