4 seasons Pieris

Flowers of the pieris shrub

Pieris come in a multitude of varieties and put on a show all year round in the garden, either thanks to their evergreen leafage, rich in colors and changing with the seasons, or thanks to their spectacular abundant flower panicles.

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Pieris, a very appealing shrub

The shape of pieris flowers is like a tiny upside-down urnFlowers from the Pieris, which are like hundreds of little white, pink or red fragrant bells hanging from slender stems, are the wakeup call for spring. They embroider the dormant vegetation from March onwards and the blooming can last up until April or May.

Early in spring, the young fresh shoots also appear, and these come in a rainbow of colors depending on the variety, like yellow, shrimp pink, coral orange, tan, red-brown, mahogany red, bright red, dull green and always looking tender and shiny new, which marks a stark contrast to the honest green of older leaves.

New growth on many pieris have different colors than older leavesAs days cycle by, these colors evolve to slowly become aquatic green, and finally a darker shade of green, mottled eventually.

In fall, the plant keeps calling for attention, waving its colored buds that are starting to form.

The genus numbers around a dozen species, two of which are very often cultivated: Pieris formosa and Pieris japonica. The former can grow up to 16 feet (5 meters) high. The latter, a very bushy shrub, never manages to grow any taller than 5 feet (1.5 meters) even after 10 years of growing.

Proper care for Pieris

Plant your pieris in fall or in March-April in heath soil or cool, non-chalky soil. Select a slightly shaded location.

  • Pieris love the sun, but they adore having light shade during the hottest hours of the day.
  • What is best is to plant it near deciduous trees in a sheltered emplacement.

In the open ground, pieris will effortlessly survive 5°F (-15°C) on the condition that it isn’t planted in drafty areas and that it grows in well-draining soil.

Salmon-colored leaves for this season of a pieris shrubIn garden boxes, protect the container with several layers of horticultural fleece, during the frosty season, in order to not have the roots freeze over.

Spring frosts can damage the colorful young shoots. In that case, wait for the vegetation to start growing again and snip off damaged tips.

As for maintenance, simply defend the trunk from invasive weeds, (especially bindweed) and remove wilted flowers at the end of spring.

  • Avoid disturbing the soil at the foot of Pieris, its roots are extremely superficial and could be damaged.
  • Lastly, note that heath soil tends to sag and lose its nutrients as years go by, so topdress with new substrate more or less every three years.

M.-C. D.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY 2.0: Michele Dorsey Walfred
Pixabay: Etienne Gontier, Marcelo Kato, Angelstar