Page 53 - Galveston Monthly - September 2017

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Plants to Avoid
is a cousin to the apple family of plants, as
indicated by the tiny, apple-shaped fruit that is a favorite food
for many bird species. Originally from Japan, India, and Thailand,
the photinia has been widely cultivated across the world.
Most are evergreen with shiny leaves and display bright red
foliage on new growth in the spring that will last from two to
four weeks, thus the familiar name, “red tip.” This characteristic
is certainly one reason that the photinia has become admired
and a reason as well for its widespread use. Following the classic
show of red tips is the appearance of clusters of white flowers
with an off-putting and disagreeable odor; red berrylike fruits
emerge later.
Easy and fast-growing in most soils, the photinia is commonly
utilized as a hedge and is generally planted too close together,
again for an immediate effect of fullness in a new landscape.
This often results in inadequate air circulation and the
development of Entomosporium leaf spot, small circular red
spots on both sides of the leaves that become large maroon,
gray, or brown blotches with reddish-purple rings. A rapid
spread of leaf spot will cause repeated leaf kill, and hedges will
eventually die out one by one.
Another challenging shrub is the Indian Hawthorn
Rhaphiolepis indica
) from China, often planted extensively
across the area as a hedge like the photinia. It is selected for its
showy spring blooms, low price, and ready availability.
A mainstay in landscapes both residential and commercial,
the Indian Hawthorn is another plant that can develop
pervasive infestations of hard to control disease and pests. The
Entomosporium leaf spot along with scale and sooty mold are
common due to the customary practice of crowding and lack of
air circulation.
Exhibiting similar characteristics is the Pittosporum, originally
from Japan and China and also quite inexpensive to purchase.
Pittosporum becomes very large and ungainly and requires
extensive and continued pruning to maintain an attractive
appearance. It is also susceptible to a number of fungal diseases,
root nematodes, scale, and “pink limb blight,” as well as aphids,
mites, and leafhoppers—more examples of poor air circulation
and over-crowding.
Other species that can become difficult over time include
Pampas Grass and Bamboo, typically planted singularly or in
groups as a natural privacy screen. Handsome and striking, these
plants are grown for their remarkable foliage and introduced as
an answer for those wishing to create a sophisticated partition.
Pampas Grass, with its elegant appearance and robust nature,
is used to mark property lines, hide unsightly fences, or as a
windbreak. Pampas Grass is native to Chile, Argentina, and
Brazil. It can grow immensely large, spreading its saw-toothed
leaves and large showy plumes over yards and acreage. Fast
growing with an extensive form and freely seeding itself every
Pompass Grass clumps
Indian Hawthorne
Photenia Fraseri