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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Generally pests and diseases free.
Take 4in (100cm) semi-ripe cuttings in late summer or layer branches in early summer.
Alternatively, sow seeds in spring in sandy compost.
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).