How to grow pieris the attractive evergreen shrub in your pot and garden
Pieris is an attractive evergreen shrub, grown for its handsome foliage and display of early spring flowers. The young leaves are often bronze or red, maturing to dark green. They contrast beautifully with the small, white jewel-like flowers, which are very attractive to bees. Pieris is perfect for growing in a shrub border or woodland area, but it does require acid soil.
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How to grow Pieris
Pieris is an ideal shrub. It is evergreen providing coverall year round, and with several months of interest starting with the colourful red spring growth followed by attractive flowers. The new red growth appears in late February, and throughout March when the growth takes up colour and is at its brightest, and whilst that fades lovely flowers appear, usually, but not always white, in April and early May. Pieris requires no maintenance, and the only growing requirement is to be planted in acid soil.
Pieris grow to various sizes and some varieties can be very large; checking the size of a variety is an important planting point.
Although fully hardy, the young red growth can be damaged by frost and Pieris are best planted out of chilling winds. Pieris is tolerant of semi-shade and is tolerant of most garden conditions. Pieris look good planted with other acid loving shrubs such as Rhododendrons and Camellia to create a low maintenance shrub border.
Pieris do not require routine pruning. The shrub can be pruned if needed to tidy up any spindly branches or spent flowers. Pruning should be done in late spring after flowering.
The one, possibly only essential requirement when growing any variety of Pieris is to be planted in acid soil and if feeding, an ericaceous feed only.
There are large varieties of Peiris, which is why checking the variety and label is important. Some varieties such as P. Formosa can grow up to 6 metres which is really a tree not a shrub, as illustrated left.
Peiris japonica is a smaller variety which has the RHS award of garden merit and grows up to 2.5 -4 metres (8-12 ft) with a similar spread. It is fully hardy and has white flowers illustrated in the images above left and right.
Pieris japonica ‘Debutante’ is a more compact form, classified as dwarf growing up to 1 metre in around 10 years. Ideal if you want a small shrub which stays that way.
Peiris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’ illustrated below left has very attractive dusky red/dark mauve flowers. It is a large variety which grows to around 1.5 -2.5 metres in 10 years. Again, fully hardy H5 which is tolerant of low temperatures to -15c.
There are plenty of smaller varieties, such as Peiris japonica ‘Compacta’ with fragrant, white blooms in spring and is a heavy-flowering dwarf form. Also P. ‘Flaming Silver’ AGM with variegated foliage enhanced each spring with golden-red new growth. This is another smaller variety barely 2 metres in 10 years.