Monday, November 14, 2011
My love-hate relationship with Pieris japonica
First of all and probably most important, it's evergreen. It also has pretty, glossy, dark green foliage, I have to admit. But the reason most gardeners, designers and landscapers seem to love it is its unusual drooping flower clusters that emerge in April and persist on the plants all the way into winter and that also give a slight fragrance. A lot of folks call them Lily-of-the-Valley-like, and I have to admit they do resemble that flower in a smaller form. But the way the flowers stay on the plant for a long time does give it a bunch of points, and there are many, many cultivars of the straight species that are very interesting. One of them is the 'Dorothy Wyckoff' that you see in these photos I took just a couple of weeks ago at the NYBG. A lot of the cultivars are smaller than the straight species and not as leggy, as this 'Dorothy Wycoff' shows very well. The straight species has white flowers, but many of the cultivars have pink flowers, like this 'Dorothy Wyckoff'. They look pretty planted as a specimen in a border, but also really stand out planted as a grouping as they are here.
They do have some drawbacks. If they are planted in too much sun, they are very attractive to lacebugs. They do best in part-shade with protection from strong winds, just like so many of the broadleaved evergreens. They can get leaf scorch if in too much sun, and also mites and leaf spots. BUT, a really positive attribute is they are deer resistant! A big plus here in Connecticut and most of the Northeast.
The native mountain andromeda, Pieris floribunda, has flower racemes that are erect and not droopy like the Pieris japonica. These are especially pretty, too, since that droopy flower has always bothered me. But the Pieris floribunda IS attractive to deer. Go figure.
The Pieris species is in the Ericaceae family with the rhododendrons and the mountain laurels and also love acidic, organic, well-drained soil.
So after learning more about its fine qualities and seeing the very pretty 'Dorothy Wyckoff' planted in mass at the NYBG, I might just be a Pieris convert. Those cute little cultivars are a really nice size for most gardens, and I love the pink hues a lot of them have in those cute droopy flowers.
Posted by Cindy at 10:22 AM