Growing Pieris (Lily of the Valley bush, Japanese andromeda)

Latin Name Pronunciation: pie-ee'riss 

These broad-leaved evergreen shrubs are decorated all winter with flower buds that open in early spring, covering the plants with long white tassels. The narrowly oval, glossy leaves are arranged in dense rosettes, and their new growth is often tinged with red. Andromedas prefer growing conditions similar to Rhododendrons and Azaleas. They are excellent choices for rock gardens, foundation plantings and woodland edges.

Light: Full sun or partial shade; protect from afternoon sun.

Soil: Moist, well-drained soil; cannot tolerate wet soil.

Watering: The key to getting your new shrub or tree off to a good start is moisture. Water thoroughly after planting, and keep a close eye on the plant over the following week. Then, give it a good soaking once a week during summer, unless rainfall is plentiful (more than 1in per week). Established plants can generally get by on less water, but most grow best if the soil remains evenly moist. Please note that more is not better. When in doubt, don't water.

Fertilizer: We recommend against fertilizing at planting time and during the first growing season in your garden. Plants need time to settle in before being pushed to grow. Most established plants grow best if fertilized with a light hand. Here at the Farm, we fertilize our specimen trees and shrubs just once -- in early spring -- with a light but even coverage of a balanced, granular fertilizer (such 5-10-10, 10-10-10, or an organic fertilizer). If a concentrated, water-soluble fertilizer is used, please follow the manufacturers' recommendations carefully.

Continuing Care: Shelter from wind and afternoon sun, which can encourage their susceptibility to lace bug. Canker, dieback, root rot, and nematodes may be other problems. Many varieties will grow in Zone 4 in protected locations. In cold climates, keep Andromedas well watered (but don't drown them) until the ground freezes in late fall to prevent desiccation in winter. Prune to shape after flowering, and remove dead and damaged branches in midspring.