The Lily of the Valley tree is one of the many wonderful plants from Japan the botanical name is Pieris Japonica, also known as the Japanese Andromeda.
It is the very attractive flowers that remind us of Lily of the Valley, although Pieris Japonica is actually related to the Heaths and Heathers, from the Ericaceae family.
Evergreen and best suited to USDA zones 4 – 8 this is a plant for cool to temperate climates. And it is a shade loving plant. Leathery foliage is a good green, however new growth can emerge a coppery green or fiery red.
The flowers themselves appear in late winter to early spring, however the flower buds appear much earlier and hang in clusters on the plant through fall and winter.
The new growth adds extra color to the winter garden, foliage although generally green, variegated forms can also be found.
As the flowers open it is easy to see why the name ‘Lily of the valley Tree’ is often used, the remind us of Lily Of the Valley Flowers.
Pieris Japonica Care
Best growing a humus rich moist but well drained soil, Pieris Japonica will grow well in full sun to part shade.
Best suited to USDA zones 4 – 8 In the warmer zones afternoon shade is recommended.
Deep shade will prevent flower formation, so be a little selective with growing position.
- Choose a position where the plant gets good filtered light, and preferably morning sun.
- Ensure drainage is good.
- Dig in some well rotted compost a few weeks before planting.
- Stake young plants until a good root system is developed.
- Water in well with a liquid seaweed fertilizer.
- Mulch around plants to ensure a cool root run.
- An annual application of a Camellia or Rhododendron fertilizer is usually adequate in good soil.
Pieris Japonica Varieties
The classic white flowering Pieris Japonica is still the most widely grown variety. The shining white ‘Lily of the Valley’ flowers hang in clusters adding a luminosity to the garden.
A number of new varieties are available some with white flowers, some with pink to red as well as dwarf varieties and some with variegated foliage.
- Pieris Japonica Forest Flame
White flowers and bright red new foliage.
- Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’
One of the best for fiery red new growth.
- Pieris Japonica ‘Katsura’
Very attractive pink to red flowers
- Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine’
With very strong red flowers it provide a different look to the white flowering types.
- Pieris Japonica ‘Debutante’
Low growing variety with pure white flowers.
- Pieris japonica ‘Little Heath’
Another low growing cultivar, excellent for a low flowering hedge in a shaded position. Also well suited to containers.
You can propagate Pieris from semi hardwood cuttings taken in summer. Use a rooting hormone powder or liquid as Pieris are a little reluctant to strike. You will need to be able to provide bottom heat, a propagation unit is recommended.
Pieris grown from seeds are a difficult proposition. If you wish to try be patient,
Layering is another possibility.
Pieris Japonica rarely needs pruning, it is slow growing and well behaved.
On occasions dead or damaged wood will need to be pruned away and this can be dome at any time at any time.
The annual ‘tidy up’ is of course a matter for each gardener to consider.
You can remove the spent flower heads. Simply pinch them off if you want to. Although they will drop off eventually by themselves.
With severe frost damage you can prune that away as you need to. Although leave this for a while as the frost damaged parts often recover.
Any really errant stems can be pruned away. Those that touch the ground are an example.
If you you need to prune to shape or size, the best time is in spring immediately after flowering.
Pieris Japonica or Andromeda, are available for sale from the following growers
TINY TREASURES NURSERY – phone: 503-463-8602 fax: 503-390-0028
PO Box 20250 Keizer OR 97307
BLOOM RIVER GARDENS – phone: 541-726-8997 Fax: 541-726-4052
39744 Deerhorn Road Springfield, OR 97478