Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - March 23, 2011

From: Pittsburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Compost and Mulch, Shrubs
Title: Using non-native Red-Tip Photinia as a mulch from Pittsburg TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Wondering if its ok to use Red Tip Phontinia as a mulch? thanks

ANSWER:

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. 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 more about the fungal threats to the plant. 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. This article by Lynn Rawe from the Texas A&M Home Horticulture site describes the symptoms. There is no cure.

If you choose to use the leaves from the photinia as a mulch, they should first be composted long enough to thoroughly break down the leaves, and in a hot enough compost to kill any fungus or disease that might be lurking in those leaves. In fact, any organic material used as a mulch should first have gone through the decomposing process of composting. If it does not, nitrogen will be stolen from the soil to assist in the decomposition, which will harm the roots of the plants you are mulching.

 

 

More Shrubs Questions

Cenizo for border of school garden from Cedar Park TX
January 27, 2014 - Hi. We're starting a school garden in Central Texas, and instead of building a fence along one side, we'd like to plant a hedge. Ideally, it would grow tall enough to deter deer from jumping over, b...
view the full question and answer

Trees with non-invasive roots or tops in Newhall CA
November 07, 2011 - We would like to plant a tree with noninvasive roots near our garden wall and concrete driveway in a grassy area in the front yard facing west. This spot is very sunny in the afternoon with automatic ...
view the full question and answer

Suggestions for native perennials in Staten Island, NY
April 03, 2008 - My back yard garden has a good base of evergreen shrubs and perennials all doing well in clayish soil and I am ready now to add color and texture in an area with partial sun. Can you suggest hardy...
view the full question and answer

Potted Plumbago, struggling with the heat, in Spring Texas
June 29, 2011 - Why do some of the leaves of my plumbagos that are grown in large, well-draining planters turn brown? The brown starts on the tips, then extends to the whole leaf. They get several hours of west aft...
view the full question and answer

Non-blooming or fruiting Oregon grape holly in Elmhurst IL
May 14, 2010 - I have an Oregon grape holly bush that has never bloomed and has never had fruit. I have had the bush for at least 6 years, it is approximately 5 ft tall. Have had no problems, just no flowers/fruit....
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.