Pieris

Pieris

Spectacular acid loving evergreen with striking young foliage and clusters of tiny bell shaped flowers in spring. A compact, slow growing, shrub that does well in soil where rhododendrons thrive.

Family: Ericaceae
Botanical Name: Pieris
Common Names: Lily-of-the-valley bush

Foliage: Evergreen, simple long glossy green leaves. Colourful new growth in the spring. Usually red or coppery when young, fading to pink, cream and then to dark green. Several attractive variegated forms are also available.

Flowers: Long drooping trusses of tiny, waxy, urn-shaped flowers. In shades or red, pink or white, depending on variety.

Flowering Period: Spring (March to April).

Soil: Lime free (acid) moist loam.

Conditions: Sun or partial shade. Best grown in a south, east or west-facing aspect, in a sheltered location.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Medium-height, evergreen shrub.

Origin: Japan, Himalayas, China and North America

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK. Fresh young growth can damaged by late frosts.

Planting and Growing Pieris

Plant outside in October or April in a moist lime-free loam. Dislikes alkaline soils. Container grown plants can be planted out at any reasonable time of year. Add plenty of ericaceous compost at planting time.

Prefers a sheltered position in partial shade. Shelter from cold winds and protect the young shoots from late frosts and early morning sun. Protection can be provided by growing in amongst other acid loving shrubs such as rhododendrons and azaleas or tall heathers.

The pink to fiery-red growth of the young leaves, contrasts well with the glossy, dark green older foliage. Good as a specimen plant or an ideal background foil for other plants.

Taking Care of Pieris

An easy to grow shrub, that needs very little attention once established, except for dead-heading faded blooms. Water thoroughly during dry weather. Mulch with organic matter in early spring and apply a general fertilizer suitable for ericaceous shrubs.

Pruning Pieris

Dead-head once flowers have faded and trim back any straggly shoots. Regular pruning is not normally necessary except to shape or restrict growth. It can usually be regenerated if cut back hard, although flowering will be affected.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pests and diseases free.

Propagating Pieris

Take 4in (100cm) semi-ripe cuttings in late summer or layer branches in early summer.

Alternatively, sow seeds in spring in sandy compost.

Popular Varieties of Pieris

Certain species need sun to flower well and others need shade for the best foliage. So check plant labels before buying and planting.

Pieris floribunda is a compact bushy form with broad dark evergreen glossy leaves and clusters of white
flowers in spring. Height and spread to 6ft (1.8m).

Pieris formosa var. forrestii is a popular variety with copper-red young leaves and white flowers in April-May.
One of the best cultivars is 'Wakenhurst' with brilliant red leaves in early summer, that fade to pink then creamy white, and eventually dark green. Large panicles of white flowers. Susceptible to late frost damage. Height to 10ft (3m), spread to 15ft (4.6m).

Pieris japonica is a dense shrub with coppery-red young leaves, that mature to dark green. Flowers well in light shade. A good range of cultivars are available, including: 'Blush' (pink-flushed flowers), 'Christmas Cheer' (dark pink flowers), 'Pink Delight' (pale pink flowers), 'Purity' (white flowers), and Variegata' (a slow growing, smaller form, with green leaves edged in creamy-white, that are flushed pink when young. Height to 10ft (3m).

Pieris japonica 'Forest Flame' is a large shrub with narrow glossy leaves, that are brilliant red when young, fading to pink and creamy-white, then to dark green. Drooping clusters of small white flowers in spring. Height 8 to 13ft (2.5 to 4m), spread 5 to 8ft (1.5 to 2.5m).

Pieris japonica taiwanensis is a medium-sized shrub with bronze young foliage and white flower trusses from early to mid spring. Height from 6 to 10ft (2 to 3m).