How to grow Pieris

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

Pieris is an ideal shrub.  It is an evergreen providing cover all year round, and with several months of interest and colour starting with the red spring growth through to later 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. 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 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 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 essential requirement when growing any variety of Pieris is for acid soil and if feeding, an 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  grow 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 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  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.

Last updated 08.01.2020