When To Prune Red Robin (Photinia) In The UK

Red Robin (Photinia)

A well-loved shrub that is planted in gardens up and down the UK because of the beautiful new scarlet red foliage it produces.

Regular pruning will help your red robin maintain its beauty. The best time to prune your shrub is at the start of the growing season. This is normally late March/early April depending on where you are in the UK.

Pruning two to three times during the growing season will encourage further new attractive growth. 

Pruning in the growing season is also beneficial because if cut back when the plant is dormant your red robin won’t start to re-grow until the following spring, and you’ll be left with a bare shrub or hedge.

Red Robin (Photinia)

If you want your red robin to flower then you will want to delay your first prune of the season and wait until it has finished flowering.

Any pruning carried out late in the growing season may affect your plant’s ability to produce flowers next year as there won’t be sufficient time for the plant to produce new flower buds.

Avoid pruning your red robin after September as any new growth will be vulnerable to an autumn frost.

The deciduous variety photinia villosa should be pruned in winter when dormant.

Red Robin (Photinia)

Photinia davidiana ‘Palette’ which produces new growth that is a more pinky colour is a slow-growing variety and needs little pruning.

The same goes for the variety called ‘Little Red Robin’ as it only grows to about 2 to 3 feet in height but can be pruned at the same time as its big brother to produce the attractive new red growth. 

How To Prune Red Robin

Red Robin hedge

Red robin can be pruned into a formal shape if desired and can make a spectacularly colourful hedge.

Don’t be afraid to cut back hard to your desired size, even cutting back old stems. Your red robin will soon recover and start regrowing.

It is best to cut back quite hard when the foilage has faded to a dull bronze colour. This will encourage a new crop of bright red growth.

If you need to give your red robin a light prune this can be carried out using secateurs. If pruning a hedge then electric pruning shears may be required.

After pruning it is always best to help aid recovery of your shrub by giving it a feed with general fertiliser.

The most common variety of photinia x fraseri can grow up to a foot (30cm) a year and should be kept under control by reducing stems by 6 inches (15cm), cutting just above an outward-facing bud. This will encourage new bright red leaves.

Red robin also tends to become a bit bare at the bottom if left to grow out of control and not properly maintained.

Red Robin Problems

Red robin are usually a trouble-free plant, but can sometimes suffer from leaf spot.

This is considered to be a physiological problem and not caused by a disease or pest. The purple-brown spotting on the foilage usually indicates a plant under stress.

Semi-mature photinia that has recently been planted are particularly prone to this problem, and even though red robin is hardy shrub they can still suffer from a cold and wet winter.

The damaged leaves will normally fall off naturally in spring but this can lead to heavy foliage loss. The loss will be replaced by new growth but the plant may become thinner around the centre. 

The only way to make this area dense again is to prune, but because red robin responds so well to pruning that cutting back stems in late spring/early summer will encourage younger, more leafy shoots to rejuvenate your plant.