Japanese Andromeda – Pieris japonica – All about Pieris

Japanese Andromeda – Pieris japonica – All about Pieris

November 15, 2019 4 By Stanley Isaacs


Today I’d like to talk to a little bit about
Pieris japonica. It’s late March this year and this thing is in full bloom. That’s about
right. Late March and into April, Pieris will bloom for a good solid two or three weeks
depending upon the weather you get at any given season. Pieris japonica is a native
of Japan giving us the specific name, japonica and it’s a member of the blueberry or azalea
family, ericaceae. One of my favorites and my wife likes it, too. You can see that the
white individual flowers on this cluster are bell shaped, like you would find in the blueberries.
They are wonderfully fragrant, you are going to see some bees and other pollinators coming
in and out of the picture as I talk about it. Pieris is a broad leafed evergreen. It
stays with it’s leaves all year long. In the Winter time they tend to bronze out just a
little bit in the coldest weather, but otherwise its a lovely, lustrous dark green. It’s very
useful in the landscape for that reason, for shielding views. For instance, your neighbor’s
derelict car collection, to hide your swimming pool entrance from the street. It’s also great
en masse as a shrub planting like we have here today at Marsh Botanical Gardens. There
is about four plants in here. The ultimate height of Pieris for us is about 12 to 15
feet with a spread that’s equal to that. There are varieties of Pieris that are smaller growing
as well, the dwarf varieties, that are useful for smaller situations like perhaps hiding
the foundation of your home. Some of them grow very slowly to about 4 to 6 feet. There
are some varieties that have silver variegation or white variegation on the leaves and some
with slightly different flower color. But it’s very fragrant presence here, the nectaries
are working it today as are the honeybees. To grow Pieris properly you want an acid soil
as do most of the members of that family. You want partial shade, especially afternoon
shade. Here in New England, I’ve seen Pieris growing quite successfully and beautifully
in full sun, but further South, the warmer the Summers get, you want to have a little
afternoon shade for Pieris. The more sun that it gets, the more floriferous it will be,
but there is a balance that you have to give it. Say in the mid-Atlantic area or in the
South. I would say that average, well drained garden soil is important, but again it has
to be acid and it loves to be situated with other members of the family, ericaceae family,
like rhododendrons, azaleas and mountain laurel. There are no serious pests or diseases to
worry about with this plant. If it’s situated correctly, well drained soil is important.
Although some lace bug and black vine weevil damage has been seen, it hasn’t been a deterrent
to growing it in my opinion. It’s a carefree plant that gives you that early Spring color,
plant some Daffodils around the front of it and you have a great Spring display. Pieris
japonica.