If you are looking for a shrub that is showy, evergreen, thrives in acid soil, needs very little attention, and gives you double ‘wow’ for your money, try pieris.

I say ‘a shrub,’ but in fact there are a wealth of pieris to choose from, from compact varieties to some which are really trees rather than a shrub.

Be very sure to check the label before buying, to be sure of the eventual size!

The ‘double wow’ of pieris is that you get bright red new foliage, fading eventually to green; followed by a mass of pink/white flowers. These give it its alternative name of ‘lily of the valley shrub’.

They don’t need pruning (if you get the right size to start with!). In fact, they don’t need any attention at all. There are plenty of gardens round this way belonging to non-gardeners, and the pieris thrive.

The two I have have long since lost their labels, but I think they are both varieties of the popular pieris japonica. One came from my ‘old house,’ and a tub. The poor thing was totally pot-bound, but still provided year-round interest. I ‘liberated’ it here into the ground in the front garden, where it has been growing happily since.


The other is in a tub, one of several giving a better view from the kitchen window than the bottom of the drive, when I’m doing a pile of washing-up!

The front garden gets lots of sun (not that there’s been much so far this year); the driveway is between two houses, and gets far less. Which is one reason at least why the latter pieris is in its red foliage stage, while the old one is flowering.

However, that is handy here, as it gives me two homegrown photos to show the two stages.

If you want an idea of the range available, the RHS site has 107 results for ‘pieris japonica’.


One thought on “In praise of pieris

  1. Hey! That was one of our main crops back in the late 1990s! Back then, we grew only ONE variegated cultivar, known simply as ‘Variegata’. It was our most popular pieris, but my least favorite. I like the big Pieris forestii ‘Wakehurst’ (or simple Pieris forestii). I like the red new foliage – and I liked that I did not need to grow photinia to get it! I actually think that it had the best flowers too. Even if they were no prettier than those of the other cultivars, they had better stems for cutting. I really do not know all the cultivars that are grown now.


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