Pieris japonica -- also known as Pieris Blush or Lily of the Valley bush -- is native to Japan, Taiwan and eastern China but it grows well in the UK's climate. It is a slow-growing evergreen shrub that produces cascading clusters of tiny, white and urn-shaped flowers in March and April. These plants make excellent border shrubs and remain attractive all year long with dense and glossy green foliage, although their spring bloom is prolific and eye-catching. They're also hardy and low-maintenance once established, and can stand up to a variety of conditions and pests that many flowering shrubs won't tolerate.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Pieris japonica shrubs
- Phosphorous-rich fertiliser
Choose a planting site with partial shade and moist, well-drained, acidic soil.
Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and at a depth equal to the plant's depth in its existing container.
Remove the shrub from its container, gently separate the roots and place inside the hole; fill in with soil and add compost if soil quality is poor.
Mulch the shrub and water thoroughly; add a phosphorous-rich fertiliser.
Continue to water regularly enough to maintain moist soil, usually a deep watering once a week; reduce watering from late November to early March.
Prune only as needed, since excessive pruning can produce water sprouts; prune immediately after flowering has finished.
Tips and warnings
- Pieris japonica does not require much fertiliser once plants are established, but if foliage appears yellow or growth slows down, apply a fertiliser formulated for rhododendrons in mid-February or mid-May.
- Pieris japonica shrubs are pollution-tolerant and they grow well on sloped ground.
- Pieris japonica can tolerate full sun to partial shade; shrubs planted in full sun will grow slower but produce more flowers while those grown in shade will grow more rapidly but produce fewer flowers.
- The shrubs are susceptible to lacebugs, especially in hot, dry climates or during summer; these insects are white to pale brown and leave stippled or bleached-looking spots and hard, black excrement on the undersides of leaves. To cure infestation, cut away infested leaves or spray with soapy water; more severe infestations may require insecticide.
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