The red-leaved medlar (Photinia x fraseri), also called Frasers medlar, belongs to the Rosaceae family and is an evergreen tree. Its name derives from the Greek word “photeinos”, which means “shiny” or “light” and refers to the bright bronze-red leaf shoot. To the type of the Glanzmispeln, approximately 60 types, that are native originally in South and East-Asia as well as in North America, count approximately. The most common variety in our country is ‘Red Robin’.
The red-leaved Photinia grows broadly bushy and loosely upright. The shrub reaches a height of three metres, and its width increases significantly with age. Due to its good annual growth, it is ideally suited as a hedge plant. The popular variety ‘Red Robin’ grows about two meters high, ‘Indian Prince’ is slightly lower.
The evergreen, glossy foliage of the medlar is quite narrow and eight to fifteen centimetres long. The elliptic, alternately arranged leaves have a finely serrated leaf edge and are tapered. The upper side of the leaf is darker than the underside.
In May and June, small white flowers appear in umbrella panicles about ten centimetres wide. They only smell light. The flowers have five sepals and about 20 stamens. The ovary is often only in the lower half fused with the flower cup.
In autumn, the red-leaved medlar forms small red fruits, about one centimeter thick, which are also eaten by birds.
Location and soil
The red-leaved medlar prefers nutrient-rich, moderately dry, permeable soils. With regard to the pH value, it is quite adaptable and thrives in acidic as well as alkaline soils. The shrub tolerates a sheltered, sunny to semi-shade place. Planting the evergreen shrub is only recommended for mild winter areas, such as vineyards, because it is sensitive to frost. The variety ‘Robusta’ is considered to be well frost hardy.
Planting and care
The plant can be planted in autumn or spring. However, spring planting is recommended because the red-leaved medlar can then no longer be expected to have long cold phases and can root better. Add compost to the potting soil. The planting hole should be excavated about twice as deep and wide as the pot ball of the plant is large. Dip the bale in a bucket of water before planting so that it can soak up the water. This will also make it easier to remove the pot. Place the shrub in the middle of the planting hole and align the plant so that it is vertical. In addition, the bale surface of the plant should be at about the same level as that of the soil. Then you can fill the planting hole with the excavated soil. Step with the shoes the earth around the bale tidily firmly to close cavities. After pressing on the ground, you should water the wood penetratingly. When planting hedges, you need two to three plants per running metre. Especially in the beginning you should water the red-leaved Photinia regularly in drier phases.
cutting and Pruning
Planted as a solitaire, the red-leaved medlar does not actually need a cut. As an hedge plant, a nurturing cut after flowering in spring is recommended. The shrub grows between 20 and 40 centimetres a year.
Use in the garden
The medlar can be used alone or as a pure hedge, or mixed with jasmine, cherry laurel and forsythia. It can also be cultivated as a tub plant. With their ornamental foliage they enhance the garden and are also an enrichment in winter. By the way, the bright new shoots of the leaves last up to four months in spring and are a special eye-catcher.
As already mentioned, there are some varieties worth mentioning. Red Robin’ is the most commonly planted variety because its shoots are particularly beautiful. Little Red Robin’, the dwarf shiny medlar, is particularly suitable for planting in tubs and is well tolerated by cuttings. The leaves of the new variety ‘Cailvy’ turn even more red than ‘Red Robin’. The strong growing variety ‘Robusta’ is the most frost hardy variety of its kind, ‘Birmingham’ forms leathery foliage and ‘Indian Princess’ is a compact variety. With a three-coloured foliage (pink, white and green) ‘Pink Marble’ convinces, which should absolutely be planted as solitary wood.
The simplest variant of propagation is via cuttings. From May to September, cut off about 20 to 30 centimeter long semi-woody shoots with at least three pairs of leaves from the mother plant. The lower leaves are removed and the shoots are put into pots with a mixture of growing soil and peat moss in multiplates and wrapped in a plastic bag. Check regularly and water if necessary.
Diseases and pests
Even if the shining medlar can be attacked by fire blight, visible leaf spots usually have a harmless cause. Reddish stains are usually caused by cold or frost. If additional yellow margins appear in connection with leaf fall, a leaf spot fungus can also be the cause. In most cases it is then sufficient to remove the infested leaves and supply the weakened plants well with water and nutrients. A spraying with garlic brew in spring can help as a preventive measure against aphids. In addition, products based on rapeseed oil have proven successful. Another pest is the snout weevil: While the beetle eats the leaves, its larvae torment the roots and cause great damage. In this case, parasitic HM nematodes, for example, help – collecting the beetles is not enough.