Friday, April 5, 2013

Southern Lady Pieris

The Pieris plant provides countless white flowers draping from the limbs like charms on a bracelet.  This upright evergreen shrub with spreading branches matures to 6-8 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide, displaying dense foliage in rosettes.  They are loaded with buds, so select yours now at your local garden center to enjoy the grand display for a special place in your landscape.

The pieris are broad-leaved evergreen shrubs growing from 3-19 feet tall and 3-10 feet wide.  The leaves are spirally arranged, often appearing to be in whorls at the end of each shoot with bare stretches of shoot below.  The leaves are leathery textured with a serrated margin.  The young leaves in spring are typically brightly colored.  The flowers are bell-shaped, ranging from 0.2-0.6 inches long and are either white or pink.  The one pictured below (Southern Lady Pieris) has white flowers. The fruit is a woody capsule which splits into five sections to release the numerous small seeds.

They are commonly grown as ornamental plants, valued for year-round interest due to bright red new growth in early spring, chains of small, white flowers in mid-spring, and buds that remain on the plant throughout the winter.  Numerous cultivars have been selected for different spring foliage color.  They grow best in shade or partial sun, sheltered from drying, winter winds.  They prefer acid soil and should be mulched once per year, using a 2-inch covering of either peat or composted pine needles.  The flowers give the plant one of its alternative names, Lily of the Valley shrub.

To plant, moisten the soil in a container prior to digging a hole.  Dig a hole 3 inches deeper and twice as wide as the container.  Place a 3-inch layer of loosened soil in the bottom of the hole.  Fill the area around the root ball with loosened soil, but do not tamp down.  Form a basin around the original hole that will hold 2 inches of water.  Gently fill the basin with water.  Let settle, and add more soil.  Then water again.

One of the great features of the pieris is the fact that it is hardy from 0 to -10 degrees F.

Notice the red new growth on the tips of the branches.  This plant provides lots of color interest year-round, making it a great addition to your landscape.

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