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Photinia leaf drop

About 3 1/2 years ago we splashed out on an established lollipop shaped tree it's about 15ft ? Tall planted in to the ground in front of the house, the ground is heavy it's wet in winter and dries out in the summer. It's loosing leaves quite dramatically just as the red is coming through. No obvious sign of bugs it just looks incredibly sad I have given it slow release feed. I was wondering if it's lacking in nutrients ? Or should I try and hack it back in the summer ?

im envious when I see neighbours with photinia with thick glossy leaves, any suggestions ?



  • Bex2012Bex2012 Posts: 45

    I just chopped my photinia up and binned it... it was an ugly specimen that no amount of pruning was going to resolve, plus the red leaves all looked like ladybirds - bright red with ugly black patches. I was fed up with the contant sweeping up too. It's a shame, the people round the corner have a lovely one, but they've just pruned it & chopped all the red leaf and flowers off!

  • DrywsdadDrywsdad Posts: 46


    Thanks for the replies I think I'll wait until the flowers have finished and no risk of frost and I'll give it a heavy prune and hope it stimulates some new growth, right now it's looking very bare, a neighbour had an enormous photinia bush which was very healthy and one day they had some cowboy gardeners in to "trim" it..... I was horrified to see it butchered it and now it's got strong new growth! The tree cost £250 I'm just going to have to be brave and go for it. Will go and take a picture of it as it is now ...


  • DrywsdadDrywsdad Posts: 46


    I must say I am impressed, Ive added these pictures using my iPad, didn't know I could do that!



  • DrywsdadDrywsdad Posts: 46

    I've had bags and bags of leaves falling this past few weeks

  • Abby2Abby2 Posts: 101

    Glad you posted as was worried about my photinia bush which is dropping a lot of leaves too. I've also had the black spots on the leaves for the last year or so. Your tree looks really lovely at the front there - hope it recovers ok!

    Can anyone tell me what kind of soil they prefer? I've got a very alkaline soil and have been mulching with ericacious compost to try to reduce the PH. This is an attempt to improve the leaf colour which is very pale. Am I just fighting a losing battle with this plant?? 

    (Hope you don't mind me asking here OP - was about to post but saw you had already asked similar q!)



  • DrywsdadDrywsdad Posts: 46

    I think between us we can make our photinia happier and healthier 

  • Lion SLion S Posts: 263

    @Drywsdad and @Abby2, please keep in mind that evergreen shrubs and trees drop their older leaves in Spring, when new leaves are forming. However, I think the main problem is formed by the clay soil which your tree/shrub is planted in. It creates the wet conditions that Photinia's hate and is the main reason for leaf spot to occur, You can read more about that here:

    Photinia's want a free draining, slighly acid soil, which heavy clay isn't. And I'm afraid that re-planting the tree with ericacious compost in the same planting hole will not resolve the problems you're having because the alkaline clay soil will mix with the compost after rainfall. Besides that, on a damp, heavy soil a planting hole backfilled with coarser material, including a lighter natural soil or topsoil mix may act as a sump.

    My advice would be to either create a raised border completely filled with  ericacious compost, mixed with a sandy topsoil or plant Photinia's in a big tub with holes for drainage. If that's not possible you'd be better off planting something else, for instance a Portugese Laurel.

    Sorry for the long post, but I hope this will help you decide what to do. 


  • landgirl100landgirl100 Posts: 655

    Photinias do very well in my very alkaline soil, but it is well-drained. I agree that it may be wet conditions that are affecting your photinias. They do drop leaves at this time of year anyway, as Flowerchild says. The photos show a tree making lots of new growth, and it's a good shape, so I would leave it alone.

  • Abby2Abby2 Posts: 101

    Very useful advice thank you!

    My photinia currently has lovely red new growth but the older leaves are pale and mottled which as you suggest, Flowerchild probably means it's not happy in my soil. I'm thinking about replacing it with a laurel as they do very well in my garden - I may buy another photinia to grow in a large pot instead.

    Hope your photinia recovers successfully Drywsdad image



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