Early blooming evergreen shrubs are very special for year round interest in the garden and Pieris japonica is one of the best. Its large drooping clusters of small, waxy lily-of-the-valley-like flowers cover the bush in late winter or early spring when little else is blooming The color depends on the cultivar and can be white, pink, or red. Equally attractive is the new growth that can be bronze, pink or bright red, depending on the cultivar. Although most andromedas reach considerable size, they are slow growing and take years to fill their garden space. In addition, some smaller cultivars have been developed that are suitable for gardens with limited space. Andromeda is equally at home in a mixed border, woodland edge, or foundation planting especially when accompanied by other winter and spring blooming shrubs, tress and bulbs.
Type: Broad leaf evergreen shrub.
Outstanding Features: clusters of white to pink flowers; foliage (especially new growth of some cultivars)
Form: Upright mound.
Growth Rate: Slow.
Bloom: Clusters of white to pink to red lily-of-the-valley-like flowers in late winter to early spring.
Size: 6-12’ H x 6-10’ W.
Light: Full sun to light shade.
Soil: Fertile, acidic, moist but well drained soil; add organic matter to the soil at planting.
Fertilizer: Feed a fertilizer for acid loving plants in mid February or mid-May if leaves begin to yellow or plants appear stunted.
Hardiness: Zones 5-8.
Care: Cut back dead and diseased wood in mid-spring immediately after flowering; remove dead flowers to improve appearance and direct energy towards growth.
Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to dieback, canker, Phytophthora root rot, lace bugs, and nematodes.
Propagation: Softwood cuttings in early summer; semi–ripe cuttings with bottom heart in mid-late summer; layering in spring; seed as soon as is ripe.
Companion plants: Camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, winter blooming heather, and early spring bulbs.
Outstanding Selections: Many cultivars have been developed that offer pink flowers, colorful new growth, variegated foliage and smaller size.
‘Mountain Fire’: Fabulous red new growth that looks as good and colorful as red flowers.
‘Little Heath’: Grows 2’ tall, with pink new growth that develops into white edged leaves.
‘Crispa’: wavy or crinkled leaves (otherwise like the species)
Comments: Deer tolerant.