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Photinia Red Robin – It is officially known as Photinia x fraseri ‘Red Robin’ in the botanical world. Photinias are a genus of plants that are endemic to North America and Asia as a group. Photinia x fraseri is so called because it was found as a seedling at Fraser Nurseries in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1943, and was the first plant to be identified as such.
The specific hybrid, “Red Robin,” was developed in New Zealand and is the most widely grown of all the Photinias by a wide margin. It is also the most expensive. It preserves its crimson leaves while also being the most compact of the bunches we’ve seen so far.
Things to Consider before Planting Red Robin
This shrub is often underappreciated, mostly due to the fact that it is so commonly planted. The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has made it very obvious that this is a shrub of exceptional horticultural value, awarding it an Award of Garden Merit. Make use of the checklist below to determine if a Red Robin is a good fit for your gardening needs and preferences:
- An evergreen shrub that, if left unpruned, may grow to a height of 4 m (13 ft) and spread to a comparable width. When planted, the Red Robin grows at a pace of around 30cm (1 ft) each year. It responds very well to pruning and may be easily managed to a height of 1.2m (4 ft) if pruned regularly.
- It is completely hardy across practically all of the United Kingdom, withstanding temperatures as low as-12 °C. It can withstand temperatures as low as a few degrees when in a sheltered location. If your Red Robin has lost a significant number of its leaves as a result of a very cold winter, go to the question and answer section (comment dated April 2018) at the conclusion of this page.
- The vivid red leaf tips, which become green as they age, provide the most striking visual appeal. If the plant was left unpruned the previous year, it will bloom in June with a profusion of small white flowers. The blooms are lovely, but the aroma is not very pleasant!
- All soils are appropriate, with the exception of hard clay and wet situations. It grows well in a deep loam-type soil, but this is not required for success.
- It enjoys full sun, although it may also thrive in partial shade if given enough time. Avoid being in direct sunlight.
- Once it’s been planted, it doesn’t need a lot of water and can handle mild droughts.
- A very adaptable shrub, it may be planted as a specimen plant, in groups of three or four pots, as a loose hedge, or against a wall or fence. It is a really lovely standard plant that is easy to grow. It is not suited for use as a barrier hedge due to its lack of thorns and the ease with which it may be divided.
- With the exception of leaf spot, the plant has excellent disease resistance. Follow the advice in our section on bugs and illnesses that are common with this plant to avoid it.
- The Dogs Trust does not consider Photinia red Robin to be toxic to dogs, and this is supported by research. Indications suggest that it may create difficulties for grazing animals such as horses and cows, although this has not been proven.
Steps to Plant a New Photinia Red Robin
Follow the instructions outlined below to ensure that your Photinia Red Robin is planted properly and in the most advantageous location possible:
- Choose a location that receives full sun to moderate shade. Because the plant requires some air circulation, it should not be planted in the corner of two walls or fences, even if it will grow against one of these structures.
- If the soil is heavy or does not drain properly, add a large amount of well-rotted compost to the area and work it in well.
- It may be planted all year long if the soil is not frozen and if the circumstances are dry enough to allow for thorough irrigation. The optimum periods for growing this shrub are between the months of March and April, and between September and October.
- I dug a hole twice the width of the rootball to accommodate the rootball. Add a handful of blood, fish, and bone to the pile and massage it into the earth.
- Place the plant into the hole, filling it in with dirt to the same depth as it was in the pot, and water well. Fill in the area surrounding the rootball and press the dirt down softly yet firmly with your fingers. water thoroughly to allow the surrounding earth to settle around the rootball.
- If you wish to grow Photinia Red Robin as a hedge, you should space individual plants approximately 75 cm (2 ft 6 in) apart to provide a thick, quickly growing hedge. When growing against a wall or fence, the plants should be at least 60 cm (2 ft) from the wall or fence to provide proper drainage.
- If they are planted even closer together, they may suffer from a shortage of moisture at their roots, since the base of walls and fences will not get as much rainfall as they would if they were placed in an open area of the garden. Red Robin hedges will never be thick, and they will never do anything to deter intruders from entering.
Taking Care of Photinia Red Robin Plants
A Photinia Red Robin will take care of itself after it has established itself. With the exception of extreme droughts, it requires little water and grows rather well on typical soil without the need for extra fertilizers or pesticides. In order to maintain it in form and at the proper size, it will need pruning once or twice a year.
If the soil becomes dry around young plants (those under two years old), water them. A twice-yearly diet of blood, fish, and bone in the spring and fall will aid in the establishment of a strong root system. Keep the space surrounding the base of the plant clear of weeds and grass at all times.
Red Robins have a propensity to shed leaves throughout the year, which means that people who prefer to keep their gardens neat will have to sweep up after them on a regular basis. Slugs and snails will use the leaves that have fallen at the base of the plant as a great place to hide.
How to Prune Red Robins and When to do so
The frequency with which you prune a plant is determined by the form and size you want the plant to achieve. In the absence of pruning, Red Robin will grow fairly freely and eventually produce a bush that is around 4 m (13 ft) high and broad after seven years.
If you like a tiny shrub, you may prune it at any time between March and mid-July, depending on the weather conditions. We would not recommend trimming beyond the end of July since the new branches that emerge as a result of the pruning may be delicate and susceptible to harm from early frosts. Until the bushes are three or more years old, we would not recommend pruning them.
We recommend that you trim your trees once a year in early to mid June, when the blossoms have died or are starting to fade away. By pruning at this time of year, you will increase the likelihood of having blossoms the next year.
According to conventional belief, individual stems should be pruned immediately above a leaf node. However, based on our previous experience, no specific approaches are required. In fact, we used a hedge trimmer to prune ours, and there were no negative impacts at all from doing so. It looks like the plant grows healthy new red branches no matter what method is used.
How far back should I trim an overgrown tree? Red Robin is a subject that is often asked about. They may be severely curtailed, but in our experience, they always reappear after being cut down. A plant that has gotten out of hand may be cut down to 60 cm (2 ft) in height. The best time to do this sort of extreme pruning is during the month of May, when the plant is at its most vigorous.
If you have any cut flowers in your home when you trim your Red Robin, you may use the red leaves as foliage in the plant arrangement you create with the flowers. It has a nice appearance.
Growing Red Robins in Pots
The Red Robin can thrive in any size container, but especially big ones. A diameter of 45 cm or more is considered adequate. Fill with either normal multi-purpose compost or a John Innes type loam to the desired consistency and density.
Between the months of March and August, a handful of blood, fish, and bone should be provided to the plant on a monthly basis. It will, of course, need frequent irrigation. Each time, wait until the top 3cm of the compost is completely dry before watering thoroughly.
Pruning is done in the same manner as mentioned above, but you may wish to prune more regularly to maintain the plant in good shape and at the proper size for the container. When a shrub is planted in a big pot, it will be less likely to be blown over.