Monday, January 20, 2014

Today's Favorite Plant - Pieris

Some may find today's favorite plant a little too on the blah side of things, or perhaps too ubiquitous, as they can sometimes be overused in home foundation plantings.

I, however, find Pieris, more commonly known as Andromedas or 'Lily of the Vally' shrub, to be useful and lovely in a mixed boarder. They are best mixed in here and there in the background.

As far as broad-leaved evergreens go, they have more year round interest. New spring growths are generally bright red/pink as they emerge, and the flowers are chains of white (or red) bells in early spring (February-April). The flowers are fragrant, but smell a little like menthol.

There are many varieties with variegated foliage that also have intensely pink colored new growth. 

Pieris grow much like a Rhododendron or an Azalea, preferring a shady spot, in well-drained, moist and acid soil. Drying winds and hot direct sun should be avoided. They will burn up quickly in hot sun.

I prefer to remove spent flower stems after blooming. They are very easy to clip off with a pruner. After blooming is also a good time to shape plants.

Most Pieris can grow to 10' with maturity, so be sure to leave room in your boarder for the full grown size. If that's too big, there are some adorable dwarf varieties that stay quite small (less than 2').  

Be sure to try one in your garden.
Pieris japonica 'Valley Valentine' in flower.

Pieris japonica 'Valley Valentine' in bud.
Pieris japonica 'Valley Valentine'.
Pieris japonica 'Variegata'
Pieris japonica 'Variegata' in bud.


  1. I thought I would miss our pair after they came out last summer. They were inherited and I loved them for their 'old Portland' style, but I don't regret for a minute getting rid of them...c'est la vie!

    1. They can have lovely form/trunks with age, but I agree that I wouldn't want a pair of them next to my front door for example.

  2. I inherited a pieris with my property and I hated it at first but now I really appreciate it. I love how they look gift wrapped when they're in bloom.

  3. You're right: this is sort of a love it or hate it plant. I'm on your side of that divide. Don't much care for the flowers, but oh, mama, that new growth.

  4. There was a lady in my home town who always wore the same dangly earrings. She was a fascinating woman with an interesting garden and whenever I see a Pieris in bloom, I think of her and those special earrings. Not being hardy back home, Pieris are still a wonder to me! Thanks for featuring this sweet plant. My favorite is 'Mountain Fire' because it has screaming orange new growth that lasts for quite a while.