For years, this has been my favorite shrub for shady spots because of its outstanding appearance all year long. Long white flowers appear in March and April, but its evergreen foliage gets lots of attention, too, especially the new growth that appears in fabulous shades of reds.
Then just this year I started hearing gardening
experts warn that global warming is NOT being
kind to this plant, and one has even stopped recommending it. Say it
isn't so! Maybe now's a good time to look into similar plants like the
American species and Japanese-American hybrids (more on them below).
- The straight species can grow (slowly) to 8 or more feel tall, but many shorter varieties are available.-12 tall )
Hardy to Zones 5-8 Japan.
- Performs best in partial shade and acid soil.
- Pieris has only average drought-tolerance, so needs watering during dry periods.
- Really requires no pruning but if you do you prune, do it after flowering to avoid cutting off the buds.
- Unless your soil is already acidic, apply Hollytone or other organic fertilizer for acid-soil-loving plants every spring.
- Lacebug is a common and serious pest that sucks the sap from the leaves, yellowing them. Adequate shade, water and soil acidity reduces its vulnerability, however.
PIERIS FLORIBUNDA, AND HYBRIDS OF THE TWO SPECIES
Pieris floribunda, a native plant from Virginia to Georgia, is 2 to
6' tall, with a greater spread. It's harder to propagate so, not
surprisingly, it's not as available as the Japanese species. Woody plant expert Michael Dirr reports learning that the natives
consistently die out in the Atlanta area but that hybrids (crossed with
the Japanese species) do just fine there.