Proper planting of photinia x fraseri shrubs
I had a landscaper dig holes and plant twenty photinia x fraseri shrubs. They were in containers of approximately 12 gallon size. They are planted in a straight row along a very long fence line. The other day, I had to move one of the plants to make room for some electrical outlet. I was quite surprised to find out that the plant had been placed in the hole and the space around the plant was loosely filled with a very light soil mix product. In fact, it is accurate to say that there is much space around the root ball and the walls of the hole, because the airy soil mix is not compacted and it is impossible to compact it in a way that would be appropriate. Although it is a lot of work, my solution is to dig up and remove each plant from its hole (not as hard as I thought due to the loose nature of the soil mix product.) I then replant the photinia by slowly filling up the space between the root ball and the walls of the hole with native soil from the yard, making sure there are no air holes etc. My landscaper says that is not necessary, but I am convinced it is completely necessary. If I put a length of 1/2" pvc pipe in the space between a photinia plant's root ball and the wall of the hole, I can push the pipe right to the bottom of the root ball as if there isn't even any dirt to impede the progress of the pipe. I would greatly appreciate your advice. Peter
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Choose a full-sun to part-shade, well-drained location to plant red tip photinia. The location should be away from any structure that may block air circulation. Loamy to partial clay soil is optimal. Heavy-clay soil can be amended.
Dig the hole twice as deep and wide as the size of the potted red tip photinia.
Backfill the hole halfway, amending the soil if desired. Up to 25 percent organic matter can be added to light-clay soil and up to 50 percent organic matter can be added to heavy-clay soil. Organic matter can be compost, leaf mold or a commercial product. If you are planting multiple photinia, dig the holes at least 3 feet apart. Because of their growth potential, plant them 6 to 8 feet apart and allow them to spread.
Remove the potted shrub and place it in the soil. The top of the soil of the potted plant should be at ground level. Add or remove soil from the bottom if needed.
Finish backfilling the hole.
Water well and then water every seven to 10 days--spring to fall--during the first two years in the ground if there is no rainfall. Water at ground level and do not spray the leaves. This will help avoid fungus growth.
What you describe sounds like peat moss used in planting, and I agree this would not support the plants growth.