When to prune photinia – an expert guide to keeping your hedge looking its best

Photinias only require a light prune, but it's important to tackle the job at the right time of year

A close up of a blooming photinia red robin hedge
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Found gracing the gardens of countless UK homes, it's important to know when to prune photinia to keep it looking its best – because timing is every bit as important as technique when it comes to the TLC of one of the best hedging plants around.

It's something you'll absolutely want to get right, as photinia – particularly the Red Robin variety – isn't just a great way to add colour and texture to your garden; it can also add value to your home.

It makes perfect sense, then, that you want to show your prized photinia some love, and there's no better way to do so than by giving it a late winter or early spring prune.

When to prune photinia

One of our favourite things about photinia is how low maintenance it is, and the same is true of its pruning needs: they are minimal

Still, these cheery hedges will benefit from the occasional trim – at the right time of year, that is.

Photinia × fraseri 'Little Red Robin' |  £19.99 at Crocus

Photinia × fraseri 'Little Red Robin' |  £19.99 at Crocus

A winner for small gardens, this vibrant hedge can cope with hard pruning, which means it can be trimmed to form an informal hedge or clipped into strong shapes. 

It may sound counterintuitive, but think of it like getting your own split ends snipped off at the hairdressers; it's the best and easiest way to promote dense growth and maintain a good overall shape.

With that in mind, then, here's everything you need to know to keep yours looking its best...

Photinia fraseri red robin hedging

(Image credit: Crocus)

What you will need

To prune your photinia, you will need the following tools:

When to get to work

So, when to prune photinia to ensure this trim has maximum impact? 

'The best time to prune photinia is in late winter to early spring,' says Morris Hankinson, director of Hopes Grove Nurseries. 

'In fact, if you know when it is too late to prune roses, you know exactly what you're doing.'

Morris Hankinson of Hopes Grove Nurseries
Morris Hankinson

Morris Hankinson is the founder and managing director of Hopes Grove Nurseries Ltd, the UK’s only specialist grower-retailer of hedging plants, which he established after graduating with a Commercial Horticulture Degree from Writtle College, Essex in 1992.

That's right: the first phase of pruning is generally done in early winter, with the second being carried out in mid-spring but Morries urges gardeners to remember that different varieties of photinia may have specific flowering times. 

'If this is the case, you may want to prune immediately after flowering to avoid cutting off next season's flower buds.'

'Pruning these hedges at this time encourages those lovely new leaves that many gardeners grow photinia for in the first place,' agrees Steven Bell, the CEO of Paving Shopper.

Steven Bell
Steven Bell

Steven Bell is the managing director of Paving Shopper, known for his expertise in gardening, landscaping and paving. He leads the company with a focus on quality and innovation, ensuring Paving Shopper remains a trusted source for diverse paving needs.'

'Pruning your photinia at this time of year encourages those lovely new leaves that many gardeners grow these hedges for in the first place,' continues Steven. 

'However, if you're looking to keep them in shape or control their size, a light trim during other times of the year can do the trick. Just avoid the extremes of summer and winter!'


Can you prune Red Robin anytime?

A fast growing variety of photinia, the Red Robin can be trimmed up to three times a year, including in the spring or summer (again, though, early winter or mid-spring is preferable).

Whatever you do, though, avoid trimming after mid-August, as doing so will leave your prized hedge vulnerable to autumn frosts.

Can photinia be cut back hard?

While photinia can respond well to hard pruning, you might prefer to partake in some regular maintenance instead.

'Regular maintenance pruning can be done throughout the growing season to remove dead or diseased branches and shape the plant,' says Morris. 

'When pruning, always use clean, sharp tools and be mindful of the specific needs of your photinia variety.'

Now that you know when to prune photinia, be sure to use secateurs wherever possible and avoid cutting through its glossy leaves. Instead, you want to make your cuts just above a leaf joint.

And just like that, you have the magic ingredients to a vibrant and thriving hedge all year round. Mark your calendars, then, to make sure you don't miss your window of opportunity...

Kayleigh Dray
Acting Content Editor

Kayleigh Dray became Ideal Home’s Acting Content Editor in the spring of 2023, and is very excited to get to work. She joins the team after a decade-long career working as a journalist and editor across a number of leading lifestyle brands, both in-house and as a freelancer.