Hi, Remember Me?

— Written By and last updated by
Yes, this is Photinia x fraseri, known as “red-tips” in olden times. In the first image, it’s easy to see the attraction to this large, fast-growing shrub. For many years it was the go-to selection for privacy screens throughout the southeastern U.S., to the point that Michael Dirr (Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, 5th-edition, 1998), opined “This plant is so overused that the term nauseous is not sufficiently applicable”. However, nausea was only a secondary issue. The problem that essentially took red tips off the market was the fungal disease known as Entomosporium leaf spot, caused by the fungal pathogen Diplocarpon mespili (conidial state is Entomosporium mespili).
In the second image, we see a very moderate degree of spotting, just as the growing season is getting started (both images were taken on April 19 in New Bern). As the season wears on, or as the years go by on an infected privacy screen, the spotting becomes more and more severe, to the point of significant defoliation of the plants. In 2020, there are still some individual plants and even small groups of red tips that look pretty good, and there’s no need to remove these survivors. But bear in mind that Diplocarpon mespili is a very aggressive pathogen, and spray programs just don’t make sense, especially on shrubs of that size.
Why does this matter in 2020? The significance these days is that Indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica) is also susceptible to Entomosporium leaf spot, and we’re still planting lots of Indian hawthorn. Management involves several steps, the most important being cultivar selection. Clemson University provides a very helpful information note on Indian hawthorn, including a listing of various cultivars and their relative susceptibility. In addition to careful cultivar selection, be sure to plant Indian hawthorn in sunny locations, and with good spacing in between individual plants. This will help to reduce the periods of leaf wetness. Avoid overhead irrigation for the same reason. For more information, access the Clemson note.
Photinia x fraseri

Attractive new growth and flowers of Photinia x fraseri.

Leaves

Trouble on the way.