Explore Plants

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
    
 

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

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 Non-Natives Questions

Problems with non-native Canary Date Palms from Miami FL
December 06, 2011 - Hi: The fronts of my canary date palm, which I planted about 6 years ago, has been getting brown from the bottom of the tree and working itself towards the top for the past several months now. The b...
view the full question and answer

Non-native bougainvillea annual or perennial in Las Vegas?
April 04, 2010 - Are bouganvilleas annual or perianneal plants? What do you do w/them in the winter time. We live in Las Vegas NV
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native African violets from Mason OH
May 18, 2011 - I have had 3 african violets for at least 4 weeks. I continue to water them and have moved their location. They continue to have wilted leaves. Are they done for or is there something I can do to g...
view the full question and answer

Edibility of non-native garlic sprouts from Brancburg, NJ
March 12, 2013 - I have regular garlic in my refrigerator. It had sprouts growing out of it so I put it in a cup of water. Now that the stems are large enough to put in food, my question is.. Is that part of the garl...
view the full question and answer

Should non-native Royal Empress tree be planted in Lawrence MA?
May 13, 2010 - I am researching the Royal Empress Tree because I want to plant one in my yard in Massachusetts. I wanted to know if the Royal Empress will have rapid reproduction and bring more Empress trees to the ...
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.