Xeric and stylish gardening in San Antonio, Texas

Shiny-leaf xylosma has beautiful color and function…

I have mixed feelings about non-native xylosma congestum.  I strive to plant native plants, however, I needed a dense hedge as a stopgap for privacy along our back chain-link fence.  A privacy fence is not happening any time soon, and our red-tips seem to die one by one.  Red-tip photinia provide an excellent living fence, however Photinia fraseri are very vulnerable to entomosporium leaf spot.  This is the main reason I chose xylosma congestum for their replacement – they are not documented to be susceptible to this fungal disease.  I planted the living fence a year ago and I am amazed at the growth rate and beauty.Xylosma congestum new growthThe new growth on shiny-leaf xylosma is stunning.xylosma congestum living fenceNot only pretty with its earthy colors, it appears to be quite a fast grower.  I purchased these plants in small pots a year ago and the chain-link fence is disappearing already.Xylosma Congestum replacing a red tip  Here is a picture of one of the plants a year ago.

If you are looking for beauty, structure, function, and a plant that is not susceptible to entomosporium leaf spot, this may be it.


  1. That is a pretty plant, love the colors. Where did you find those?

    • I never expected such a mix of colors. You know Shirley, it seems to me last spring they were not as colorful (maybe because they were new?). I bought them all at the garden center, 50% off, last winter. – xericstyle

      • Thank you! I’ll look there, xylosma has been on my list since I saw it on tour last fall!

      • They always tend to have several at Shades of Green….in the back right corner…behind the green house the succulents are in…by the stock tank pond… – xericstyle

  2. Have the plants really grown so much in year? I grow Photinia so far I haven’t seen the problem you described. Christina

    • Hi Christina :) They sure have grown quite quickly – here is my post last winter…it shows the small xylosma, as well as the existing photinia. https://xericstyle.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/red-tip-photinia-dreaded-entomosporium-leaf-spot/
      You are lucky if you have not lost any of your red-tips. How old are they? Ours were planted many years ago by the original owners of our home. They are pretty old. Maybe it is just a regional problem around here? HMMMMMmmmmmm… not sure, but it happens ALL OVER here…my favorite local nursery does not even carry them any more for this reason. Keep me posted on yours please – so curious! – xericstyle

  3. Oh, thank you! I have been looking for just such a plant! I didn’t particularly want to use photinia, but didn’t know what else to use. I’ve just found my answer! :)

    • Cool – please keep me posted! Do your research…they get HUGE. Mine are certainly spaced too close – but it is a temporary solution so I wanted them to fill in faster. If they end up becoming a permanent solution….I foresee taking out every second one…. – xericstyle

  4. Desert Dweller

    Nice choice, Xs. The growth you show is really nice for creating the screening effect you definitely need. I would have guessed one of the native evergreen Rhus or Garrya species, but they don’t grow fast nor are always available. The only thing I recall about Xylosma were thrips in San Diego, but that could have been the western thing for overwatering everything?

    • EEK! Thanks for the tip David! :) As always. :) No over watering here…so fingers crossed! They got…hmmm….maybe 6 hand waterings from me since I planted them last winter. I have clay soil… sooooo….I am some ways cursed and some ways lucky I guess. At least on the watering end. – xericstyle

  5. Xericstyle, I love your style and house! My husband and I are looking at houses in San
    Antonio and I wonder if you have neighborhood suggestions? I grew up on the NW side and that’s probably where we’ll end up, but Id love a house with more character. Email me!

    • Thanks so much Ruthie! I look forward to chatting with you via e-mail. Welcome back (in advance) to SA! :) – xericstyle

  6. d

    I’m about to landscape my yard, and was considering a few of these around the perimeter. I might put one near a walkway, but was wondering if they drop their berries? Do you know if they do? I don’t want to have something that will stain.

    • I have mine as a living fence at the very back of the property – honestly, I am not around them much to give you a definitive answer on that. They are amazing and grow quite quickly as a living fence. They do have berries, the birds get them rather quickly, and if mine fall on the mulch, or alley, I don’t notice. Sorry I cannot be of more help. As far as placing one near a walkway….give it lots of room as they get BIG. Sight-unseen….I would say no to near a walkway, but yes for a living fence, or as part of a living fence. Maybe something else evergreen and less messy for beside your walkway like rosemary. Are you in Texas? -xericstyle

  7. d

    I also forgot to add that I’m also curious about the level of bee attraction due to flowers for the same reason. :)

    • Hi D – good questions! When there are flowers I see bees – but this is NOT OFTEN. -xericstyle

  8. Dan N.

    Hi Heather, based on your privacy hedge experience, in hindsight how far would you have spaced them? We are going to use them for the same thing.
    (Also in response to D, I read that bees do love their flowers but they bloom only in summer for about a month but to definitely avoid putting them by pools or outdoor eating areas any closer than 30-40 feet in order to keep you and the happy bees cordial!)

    • Hey! :). Actually…I would do the same spacing. Funny story…after I planted them I saw huge hedges I thought were xylosma, but they were ligustrum (a plant I was not familiar with)! I got confused because the leaf structure is similar…and they both have black berries….I thought the monster TREE ligustrums were mama’s and that is what my babies would eventually look like. Glad I was wrong! Good luck! Please keep me posted. I amended my soil with ladybug brand revitalizer compost (high quality manure/humus compost).

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