Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Prostrate Chinese Stranvaesia

photinia-davidiana-prostrata-berry-640

 

What colorful fruits!  And on a spreading broadleaf evergreen that's as unusual as its upright forms are ubiquitous.  Prostrate stranvaesia is enthusiastic and engaging year-round.  If only I'd pruned wisely—see "How to handle it" below—my bush would have produced way more than this one berry. 

 

Growth is dense and groundcovering, and the green leaves turn burgundy for Fall and Winter.

 

photinia-davidiana-prostrata-acanthus-640

 

As shown by the large acanthus leaves, prostrate photinia is a strong contrast with nearby foliage that's large as well as green.

 

 

photinia-davidiana-prostrata-acanthus2-640

 

But the acanthus is already showing frost-burn; it will retreat underground soon.  See "Partner plants" for combinations that take advantage of prostrate photinia's cold-weather foliage all Winter long.

 

 

Here's how to grow this colorful broadleaved evergreen:

 

Latin Name

Photinia davidiana 'Prostrata'

Common Name

Prostrate Chinese Stranvaesia

Family

Rosaceae, the Rose family.

What kind of plant is it?

Broad-leaved evergreen bush. 

Hardiness

Zones 5 (with protection); solidly Zone 6 - 7.

Habit

Multibranched and wide-spreading.  The bush is, indeed, prostrate in comparison to the species, but can grow two feet tall, so isn't prostrate in the sense of being a horticultural carpet only inches high.

Rate of Growth

Medium to fast.

Size in ten years

Two to three feet tall and ten feet wide.

Texture

Dense and leafy, similar to evergreen euonymus.

Grown for

its foliage:  Similar in size, shape, and coloring to that of houseplant ficus trees—but fully evergreen in Zone 6, and turning a deep burgundy in cold weather.

 

its fruit:  The small white flowers mature to bright red pomes that mature when the foliage is still green, and last for many weeks after the foliage has "burgundied" for the Winter.

 

its habit:  'Prostrata' is vigorous and wide-spreading, and is an excellent large-scale groundcover.

Flowering season

Photinia flowers in Spring; the flowers are small and white, in dense clusters similar to those of pyracantha. 

Color combinations

'Prostrata' goes with anything. 

Partner plants

Lighter foliage would contrast with the burgundy color that the leaves of 'Prostrata' adopt in cold weather.  Chamaecyparis 'Fernspray Gold' would be a bright idea, around which 'Prostrata' would make an excellent broadleaved groundcover.  'Prostrata' would be a great groundcover around tall variegated grasses, too.  What a pairing:  Miscanthus 'Cosmopolitan' with 'Prostrata'.  Larger foliage is another option.  If you garden where Acanthus is easy, clumps of it could erupt through the Photinia.  Farther north, you could achieve a similar effect with Hosta 'Krossa Regal', whose foliage is unusually tall and upright.

 

Yet another option is to combine 'Prostrata' with stoloniferous shrubs whose foliage is contrasting and whose habit is strongly vertical.  I've allowed my colony of Tetrapanax to invade my 'Prostrata'.  Tetrapanax is famously stoloniferous, and its strong stems shoot up through the 'Prostrata' without hesitation.  Hardy clerodendron, Clerodendron trichotomum, is another option.  Both of these aren't hardy to the cold end of Zone 6, though.  Cutleaf sumac, Rhus typhina 'Laciniata', is hardy to Zone 4.

Where to use it in your garden

Prostrate stranvaesia is a supporting player, not a lead actor.  Although some of the upright forms of Photinia—see "Variants" below—are an omnipresent bore in the South, 'Prostrata' isn't overused anywhere.  It's completely hardy up to Boston, and is a welcome addition to the range of broadleaved evergreens fully hardy in Zone 6.

Culture

Full sun or part shade.  Well-drained soil enhances hardiness.

How to handle it: The Basics

Photinia isn't fussy or difficult to establish.  If you plant in Spring in any decent soil, and water regularly the first season so the bush establishes, it will normally be self-reliant thereafter.  

 

There are several options for pruning.  If the goal is only to control size, prune in Spring, or in mid-Fall after growth has stopped for the season.  Don't prune in the Summer; new growth might not have time to harden-off before Winter. 

 

Pruning affects both flowering and fruiting.  Pruning in early Spring removes branches that would otherwise flower and fruit that same season.  Pruning in the Fall removes branches that would otherwise flower and fruit the next season.  Pruning right after flowering—in late Spring, in other words—also removes branches that would otherwise fruit that same season, but gives new growth the rest of the growing season to harden as well as set buds for flowering the following Spring.

How to handle it: Another option—or two?

None.

Quirks or special cases

None.

Downsides

The flowers have a musky fragrance; Photinia isn't the shrub to plant by the doorway.  Fireblight resistance is uncertain, so plant 'Prostrata' as a detail, not as a mainstay.

Variants

The genus Photinia is a large group of evergreen shrubs and trees; only a few species are currently in use in North America.  Photinia x fraseri 'Red Tip' has been planted by untold millions all over the South.  It would be good citizenship to eschew it in favor of almost anything else: Cherry laurel, holly, clumping bamboo, say.  'Red Tip' has proven to be very susceptible to a defoliating fungus, whose spread has been worsened by the overplanting.  One of the parents of 'Red Tip', P. serratifolia, is quite resistant to the fungus, and overplanted farther south as well.  It's also hardy to Zone 6, and almost never planted north of New York City; I'll be testing it in my own garden soon.  It is susceptible to fireblight, though, as are a number of other Photinia species.

 

There are several cultivars of P. davidiana itself.  'Palette' has pink, white, and green foliage but, at least in my garden, has been a weak performer.  'Fructu Luteo' has yellow fruit; given how enduring the fruit of 'Prostrata' is, the bush could be very showy for months.  'Winterthur' is upright as well as wide. 

Availability

On-line.

Propagation

Photinia davidiana 'Prostrata' is propagated by cuttings.  It isn't likely to come true from seed.

Native habitat

Photinia davidiana is native to East Asia.

 

 
 
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