Common Name: lily-of-the-valley shrub, Japanese andromeda
Botanical Name: Pieris japonica
Form: upright, vase to oval shaped
Plant Type: broadleaf evergreen
Mature Size: 9 to 12 feet x 6 to 8 feet
Origin: Japan, China, Taiwan
Hardiness Zone: 5 to 8
Foliage: alternate, to 3.5” long shiny deep green, new foliage red, orange, bronze or maroon
Flowers: 6 inch or larger mostly pendulous clusters of fragrant, urn-shaped white flowers in early spring, buds form on plant in autumn resembling while pearls
Fruit: brown round capsules
Exposure: full sun to part shade, afternoon shade beneficial
Soil: rich, moist, acidic soil, well-drained
Uses: borders, year round interest, hedgerow, specimen, foundation, accent, background, informal hedge, screen
Propagation: seeds, softwood cuttings
Pruning: after flowering, if needed, pruning after April removes the flowers
Problems: lace bug, spider mites, scale insects
Cultivars: many with different coloured new foliage and flowers
A versatile shrub that can be used alone or in a grouping. Has something to offer every season. Evergreen foliage provides a great background to other plants while new foliage shouts out colour. Leaves emerge in vibrant orange, reds, chartreuse, maroons, pinks and copper depending on the cultivar and variety. It’s upright, tiered branches are attractive and do not need pruning or shaping.
Pieris can become a high maintenance plant if it is not in the right location without correct soil and maintenance. Morning sun, afternoon shade and moist, but well-draining acidic soil rich in organic matter is ideal. Pieris must be mulched with 3 inches of an organic mulch. It does not like sandy soils nor drought.
Incorrect conditions create problems. Lace bug insects mottle foliage, which weakens the plant and makes it look pale and sickly. To rectify, add compost, well-rotted manure and other organic matter. Mix at least 2 inches into the soil with a rake, trowel or cultivator, then apply the mulch on top of the soil. Water during times of drought, especially during the summer.
If you have the time and patience, remove the spent flowers. Leaving the flowers on and not deadheading right will result in fewer flowers next year. Remove dead stems at their base any time of year. To trim overly long branches, cut back to a strong side branch. Note that the leaves are toxic.