So many times I go out on projects and see a recurring trend - diseased plants! One of the most common is Photinia Leaf Spot. Most of the time the client is at their whits-end when it comes to a solution for the issue. We’re huge proponents of preventing diseases, rather than trying to play defense and attempting to deal with an existing problem in the landscape. I’m going to share with you some basic steps you can take to improve the health of your plants and landscape.
- Remove Decaying Leaf Matter
I know what you’re thinking, “but composting is good for the soil”. You’re right, but one of the differences between your compost pile and the 2” of leaves under your plants is Heat! When you have a compost pile of leaves and other waste, the center of that pile heats up, killing the bad bacteria and spores that spread disease. On the other hand, the mat of decomposing leaf matter under your shrubs just doesn’t have the chance to get hot enough and begin a beneficial composting cycle. So your best bet is to remove them.
Take the time in the Fall to do the major pruning on your Photinias. You want to create good air circulation and plant structure. Don’t continue to prune in the Spring and Summer with the goal of just encouraging new growth. If things are getting out of control, go ahead and prune back what is required, but do the major work in the Fall.
A critical step in any landscape is the proper application of mulch. You want to have approximately 3” of loose mulch around your plants. When mulch gets compacted it begins to cut off the flow of oxygen to the root zone. Make sure you fluff up your mulch a few times per year.
If you have a heavy infestation of disease, it may require additional treatment. We prefer an application of organic fungicide, but there are also chemical options available. Read the labels and see what you are comfortable applying in your landscape.
With a little bit of planning and care, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful color and structure of the Red Tip Photinia for years to come!