En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - June 27, 2009

From: Lexington, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Dying non-native red tip photinias in Lexington NC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Large Red Tip bushes, what can I do to keep them alive? I have a few and they are dying. What can I do to save them?

ANSWER:

Due to the large volume of questions, we ask that you please limit your questions to topics related to North American native plants.

For openers, the red-tip photinia is non-native to North America, originating in the Far East. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed to the planting, protection and propagation of plants native to North America. Native plants are recommended because they are adapted to an area's soil, rainfall, heat (or cold), and so require less water, less fertilizer, less maintenance. We're not saying that your plants are suffering because they're non-native, necessarily, but that choosing the right plant, in advance, can save you a lot of grief and probably money because of lost plants. Unfortunately, the red tip photinia has been widely overused because it is cheap, fast-growing and the red leaves in the Spring are quite attractive.

In this Mississippi State University Extension Service Red-tip Photinia Almost Eliminated, you will likely find out why your plants are not prospering. Here is a quote from this article:

"Red-tip is highly susceptible to the fungal pathogen known as Entomosporium that causes leaf spots and ultimately defoliation. The disease has all but eliminated Red-tip from the list of recommended shrubs for Southern landscapes. In fact, the disease is so widespread that one plant pathologist jokingly explained that there are two types of Red-tip, those that have the disease and those that are going to get it! So, even though newly planted Red-tip bushes may stay disease free for many years, ultimately they will succumb to the inevitable."

Cotton Root Rot is also responsible for the loss of many ornamental plants in clay soil, and photinias are especially vulnerable. An article by Lynn Rawe from the Texas A&M Home Horticulture site describes the symptoms. There is no cure.

We're sorry that we can't give you the name of a spray or fungicide that would cure these plants, but we're afraid there is no such panacea. If the seemingly inevitable happens, try replacing the plants with plants native to North Carolina. If and when the photinias die, remove them and dispose of them in such a way that whatever disease has killed them will not be readily able to spread to other plants. Then incorporate compost or other humus into the soil, digging and mixing it deeply, and raising the bed, again to improve drainage. Don't try to plant new shrubs until late Fall, so they won't suffer from heat shock. Mulch them with shredded hardwood mulch, which will help keep the roots cool (or warm) and, as it decomposes, add still more organic matter to the soil, and keep this mulching up.

 

 

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Plants (mostly non-native) not common to Tyler TX area
July 11, 2009 - I live in Tyler, TX 75705. I always seem to fall in love with plants that are not common for this area so I cannot find information on growing these plants in this area: Esperanza, Alstromeria, Japan...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on Gloxinias
August 20, 2004 - How do I care for my newly acquired Gloxinias?
view the full question and answer

Insect pest on non-native dwarf apply tree in Utica MI
June 02, 2011 - I have a dwarf apple tree that bears 5-6 different kinds of apples. I am having trouble with insects; what is a good choice for this and feeding it? Is there also a organic choice?
view the full question and answer

Yard Trees for Burleson, TX
July 24, 2011 - We need to replace 2 mature pear trees in our front yard, north side of the house in Burleson, TX. We are looking for faster growing trees that will last for decades that resist disease in clay soil....
view the full question and answer

Return to original color of non-native crape myrtles in Henderson, TX
July 17, 2009 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I bought 3 Dynamite Crape Myrtles that were about 3 -4 feet tall (at Lowe's). In the late Spring, I planted 2 of them about 100 feet apart, in full sun, and left the other one in...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center