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Plant Profile: Japanese Pieris

Japanese Pieris - Pieris japonicaBotanical name: Pieris japonica

Family: Ericaceae

Type: Evergreen bush

Size: 3m tall by 2.5m spread

This popular spreading bush is native to Japan, Taiwan and Eastern China with more than 40 named cultivars and several hybrids listed.

Japanese Pieris is also known by the names Japanese Andromeda and Lily of the Valley shrub, due to the similarity of the flowers to those of Lily of the Valley.

The emergence of the almond-shaped leaf growth is a spectacular sight, as the leaves start out bronze-coloured and turn a glossy dark green with a lighter green shade underneath.

In late winter to early spring 10-15cm long racemes of white or pink flowers appear and last for approximately three weeks. These flowers are set the year before and appear as bead-like pink buds throughout winter. These attractive buds look very pretty against the dark green foliage.

The flowers are faintly perfumed and the bark is a reddish brown which becomes scaly and split.

Japanese Pieris is useful as a hedge or shrub border or as a single specimen. Other varieties may be used as foreground borders such as 'Bisbee Dwarf', a compact plant with smaller-than-normal leaves.

Japanese Pieris - Pieris japonicaIdeal Conditions:

Pieris japonica prefers partial shade and does not perform well in full sun. Plant in a rich, moist, acidic soil which is well rained. Pieris must have protection from strong winds and drought.


The flowers are susceptible to frosts. Ensure the flower heads are removed as soon as possible after blooming. Do not prune in winter or you will lose the flower buds which have formed for the following season.

Propagation is by hardwood cuttings removed in winter, green wood tip cuttings removed in spring, or from seed, also in spring. Watch out, as leaf spot, scale and mites love this bush.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: June 2, 2004