Genus: Pieris Species: japonica Common Name: Pieris
Area of Origin: Japan, China, Taiwan
Characteristics: An excellent large specimen broadleaf evergreen that can work well in the shrub border, on mass or with other broadleaf evergreens. Dirr claims it grows 9' - 12' tall with a 6' - 8' spread, and is slow growing, 4' - 6' in 5 to 8 years. Our patio tree is a least 15' tall and 10 wide. The leaves are alternate, simple, crenate-serrate and lustrous dark green above with lighter green beneath. The new growth is a rich bronze and the new foliage on some of the new cultivars such as 'Mountain Fire' is spectacular. The trunk is vertically fissured and attractive. The flower buds form in the summer prior to flowering, the flowers themselves are perfect, weakly fragrant, white, urn-shaped borne in 3"-6" long and wide, pendulous, racemose panicles. The dehiscent fruit capsules are messy and best removed after flowering.
Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 8.
Cultivation needs: Easy to grow, likes moist, acid, well-drained soil and prefers full sun to partial shade which ours now has but until we cut the large oak from the center of the patio was in full shade. According to Dirr it does not grow old without a struggle and needs to be sheltered from the wind. There are loads of cultivars flooding the market now, compact, red new foliage, pink flowers, red flower buds etc etc.
Typical Pests, Diseases, associated problems: Leaf spots, die back, lace bugs -- this is a real menace in our neck of the woods. The bugs suck the juices from the leaves and cause yellowing to browning of foliage. Also Florida wax scale, two-spotted mite, nematodes. Still worth the effort.
Propagation Method: Seed or cuttings which root easily. That's if you want to wait years for a stick to grow.