When talking with a client last week about a new planting scheme we landed on the subject of ‘Pieris’.
He described this genus as being “very Aberdeen” and I know what he means because you do see them in very many gardens, however it is little surprise that this easy-to-grow, evergreen has been so popular through the years… for these very reasons – they are easy to grow and evergreen!
This genus of seven species is originally a high-altitude plant from mountain ranges across southern and eastern Asia and eastern North America but they will thrive in the UK, given the right conditions and they certainly seem to like Aberdeen.
It is an ideal shrub in many ways, giving cover all year round, providing several months of interest and colour that starts around March when the new growth is typically bright red. The flowers are bell-shaped, long white or pink and arranged in racemes, some of which are scented.
They are tolerant of semi-shade, and ideal for a woodland border. Although fully hardy, pieris should be planted away from the morning sun because the young red growth can be scorched after a frosty night.
Pieris do not require pruning. If pruning is required to tidy up any spindly branches or spent flowers it is best to prune in late spring after flowering. They do tend to get ‘leggy’ if grown in overly moist soils. One essential requirement when growing any variety of pieris is for acid soil and if feeding, use an ericaceous feed only.
Pieris grow to various sizes and checking the size of a variety is an important planting point. There are large varieties such as p. Formosa, which grows up to 6 metres!
Here are some great varieties that are fully hardy
Pieris japonica ‘White Rim’ is a white-flowered form reaching 1-1.5m. Green foliage is edged with pink margins when young, maturing to cream. H5
Pieris japonica ‘Debutante’ is a more compact form classified as dwarf and growing up to one metre in around 10 years. Ideal if you want a small shrub that stays that way. H5
Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’ has darker, dusky red/dark mauve flowers, which grows to around 1.5 -2.5 metres in 10 years. H5
Pieris ‘Flaming Silver’ AGM is a decorative form with variegated foliage, enhanced each spring withgolden-red new growth. A compact form, it rarely reaches 2m. H5