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Monday, March 9, 2015

Help Save My Photinia from Dying

Q. Our red tip photinia appears to be dying. It is 8 years old and receives full sun. The leaves are turning brown and dry.  Is there a disease causing this or is it the very hot weather we have experienced this summer?  We fertilize and  apply iron regularly.
Photinia with iron problems and soils with lack of organic matter

A. The usual problem with Photinia occurs when their planted in desert landscaping with rock mulch covering the surface of the soil. They are planted with some soil amendment in the planting hole which disappears in two or three years. Sometime during the fourth and fifth year Photinia begins to develop yellow leaves.
Photinia with the beginning of the decline

These yellow leaves become a brighter yellow and begin to scorch around the edges. If this problem is not fixed, Photinia gets worse and we see die back of the stems and the canopy of the plant opens up and looks very sparse. The problem is the rock mulch for this plant. They do not like it. They like organic soils, not soils covered in rock.

You have two options. Pull the rock mulch back and add compost to the soil around each of the Photinia about an inch deep and scratch it into the surface. Next cover the area with wood mulch, not rock mulch.

Add iron fertilizer and a regular fertilizer to the plants. Water them in thoroughly with a hose. Cut the Photinia back close to the ground and let it regrow. Hopefully this will get them off to a good start this spring. Continual additions of compost every two years will help this plant stay healthy.

The second option is to dig and remove these plants and start all over. Make sure the soil they are planted in as 50% compost mixed with it. Cover the soil with wood mulch and grow them out. Fertilize once a year in January with the commercial fertilizer for trees and shrubs and make sure you add an iron fertilizer at the same time.

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