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Photinia Problems

I have red-tip photinias and have found that a fungal disease is common with this plant. How should I treat it?  J.A., North Richland Hills

ANSWER: My Sick Tree Treatment is the best remedy. It basically requires aerating the root zone and applying compost and other organic amendments such as lava sand, greensand, cornmeal, molasses, zeolite and a fertilizer. Using a product that contains mycorrhizal fungi also helps.  The final step is to spray the foliage and drench the root zone with Garrett Juice.

I have a lot of red-tip photinias in my yard. Two of the shrubs are dying. It started with yellow leaves, and then the leaves died. I have put a fair amount of lawn fertilizer around the plants, and I used fertilizer stakes around the two that are dying the quickest. One person told me that photinias live a certain length of time and then die. He suggested I dig them up and replace them. D.P., Dallas

ANSWER: You've been getting bad advice and using bad products. Photinias have a built-in weakness in their root system that causes health problems, but they often can be saved with an organic approach. Here's the plan: Stop using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Make sure the drainage around the plants is good and that you are not overwatering. Next, aerate the shrubs' root zone by poking holes in the ground with a stick or metal rod. While the holes are open, apply 1 inch of compost and the following amendments over the area around the shrubs: 80 pounds of lava sand, 100 pounds of expanded shale, 10 pounds of dry molasses, 10 pounds of horticultural cornmeal, and 40 pounds of Texas greensand per 1,000 square feet.

After applying the amendments, water the area well and cover it with shredded cedar mulch. Finally, spray everything (foliage, stems, trunks and the ground) with my Garrett Juice formula with garlic oil added. (See Resources to request recipes.) Photinias that are dead cannot be revived, but those that are merely sick often can be brought back to health. Independent garden centers have employees who can help you with organic amendments and gardening advice.

(This works for Photinias, Indian Hawthorns and other sick shrubs)
Aerate the root zone, broadcast ½ - 1" compost, apply dry molasses or sugar at 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet and lava sand at 80 pounds per 1,000 square feet, mulch with shredded native tree trimmings, and spray foliage at least monthly with Garrett Juice plus garlic tea. Add cornmeal at 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet for additional disease control. Use the entire Sick Tree Treatment for best results. Sick red tip photinias can be saved.


Purple spots on red tip photinia leaves indicating that the roots are in trouble.


Chinese photinia, Photinia serrulata, is a far superior plant to the disease prone red tip photinia, P. fraseri. 

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