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

Short evergreen shrub for Virginia
April 10, 2009 - I have been looking everywhere for an evergreen shrub that is 3-4 ft. in height, non-poisonous to humans, and that thrives in zone 7 to no avail. Please help!
view the full question and answer

Need small, fast growing trees for privacy screen in Buda, TX.
February 01, 2013 - Please recommend some small, but fast growing, flowering trees to plant along a western fence for privacy
view the full question and answer

Viburnum Leaf Beetle Damage to Native Viburnums
February 02, 2016 - Dear Friends, I am an officer of Protectors of Pine Oak Woods, a Staten Island, NY land conservation organization which also involves itself in forest restoration and invasive species control projects...
view the full question and answer

Overwatering and fertilization of whiteleaf manzanita
July 27, 2007 - Hi, I have an Arctostaphylos Dr. Hurd, southern California coast, several years old, 10 feet, that has a few large branches with yellowing and spotted leaves... also dropping many. causes? remedy? sh...
view the full question and answer

What about the brown dots on my Silver sage?
June 27, 2008 - During the past year, the leaves on my silver sage bushes around the perimeter of the front of my house have turned yellow in places and there are tiny brown dots on virtually all of the leaves. If I ...
view the full question and answer

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