Pieris

These evergreens are sometimes called lily-of-the-valley bushes because of the slight resemblance of their sprays of white, urn-shaped flowers, produced in spring, to those of the lily-of-the-valley. All like rather acid soils and are not really suitable for chalk or limestone where special beds of lime-free loam and peat must be prepared for them. They also appreciate the shelter of fairly widely spaced trees though they will grow right out in the open.

The young growth of Pieris formosa forrestii is bright red and it is often grown primarily as a foliage shrub, especially in forms selected for this leaf colour, such as Wakehurst. However, it is less hardy than some of the others and so in cold gardens or exposed places it would be better to plant Forest Flame, a hybrid between it and the hardier, green-leaved P. japonica. All these and also P. taiwanensis, another handsome species, will eventually grow to 7 or 8 ft. high, but P. floribunda grows more slowly and may take years to reach 6 ft. Pruning is as a rule unnecessary, but if plants get too big they can be cut back in spring after flowering.

Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ is a compact shrub, 2.5 m tall and broad, with lanceolate-oval, deep pinkish-red leaves, 6-8 cm long, which later turn a shiny dark green, and terminal, compact, branching clusters of white flowers. P. japonica is a compact, slow-growing shrub, 2-4 m tall and broad, with spreading, arching shoots, leathery, narrow, oval, shiny green to bronze leaves, and pendant clusters of closely packed, waxy, white flowers; there are several cultivars with white, pink or red flowers and with attractively coloured leaves.

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