How to grow Pieris

Pieris is an attractive,  easy to grow, showy spring Shrub. The most commonly grown and popular variety is Pieris japonica, illustrated above, has varieties such as 'Firecrest' and ' Mountain Fire' which have new growth coloured bright red in the spring, fading to pink and finally green with many long white flowers in the spring. The shape and mass of white flowers gives Pieris its common name of Lily of the Valley bush.

In many ways Pieris is an ideal shrub.  It is evergreen providing cover all year round, and with several months of interest and colour starting with the red growth through to the flowers.  The new red growth appears later in February, and March when the growth takes up colour and is its brightest, and whilst that fades lovely flowers, usually but not always white,  follow in April and early May.  Pieris requires no maintenance and the only growing requirement is 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. It is worth looking at the image at the foot of this page which gives an impression of just how large some varieties of Pieris can mature to.

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 ideal in a woodland and shrub border. 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 pruning. If pruning is required to tidy up any spindly branches or spent flowers it is best to prune in late spring after flowering.

One essential requirement when growing any variety of Pieris is for acid soil and if feeding, and ericaceous feed only. 

If Pieris is not the shrub for you check out shrubs and bushesspring flowering shrubssummer flowering shrubsshrubs with autumn and winter interest; and evergreen shrubs.

   If you need cover fast take a look at Fast Growing Evergreen Shrubs for more planting ideas.

Different Types of Pieris to Grow

Large Pieris  over 4 metres

There are large varieties of Peiris which is why checking the variety and label is important. Some varieties such as P. Formosa  grows up to 6 metres which is really a tree not a shrub, as illustrated left. 

P. japonica is a small variety which has the RHS award, growth up to 2.5 -4 metres (8-12 ft) with a similar spread. It is fully hardy and flowers white 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.

P. japonica 'Valley Valentine' illustrated below has 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  P. 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.

P. Forest flame illustrated below is a popular variety, and displays bright red foliage turning pink with age and then white flowers it will grow up to 4m (12') 

P. japonica 'valley valentine' and P. 'forest flame

Key Points Growing Pieris

Fully hardy although protect from chilling winds

Evergreen, easy to grow no maintenance required

Coloured foliage with spring flowers

Must be grown in acid soil.