Japanese Andromeda, Pieris japonica: Brilliant Spring Red

Japanese Andromeda, Pieris japonica

Four Japanese Andromeda, Pieris japonica that line my front sidewalk explode with color and flowers every spring.

For two weeks each spring, the sidewalk in front of my house takes the garden stage. That’s when four Pieris shrubs turn a stunning red.

The Pieris came with the house. I called them “Little Old Lady Bushes” at first, because of the lacy flowers. Some call them Lily of the Valley Bushes because their flowers resemble the plant’s flowers.

Pieris growth

New growth on the Pieris turns red in early spring.

The white flowers aren’t the stunning part. It’s the new growth that comes out bright red in March, turns pink in two weeks, then white and finally green. Pieris are deer resistant, like moist soil, and thrive in partial sun.

They’re pretty, but not perfect. Foliage and wood lack form. Their spring color and abundant flowers make up for the shortcomings. My Pieres were planted in full sun, which makes for some crispy leaves by mid-summer. They grow near two silver Maples, so there’s a struggle for adequate moisture. Silver Maples have invasive moisture sucking roots, but more on that later.

My across-the-street neighbor told me these Pieris never got their spring red on until I moved in. I water their beds during dry Seattle summers, so that probably accounts for the color change and spring growth.

Pieris will grow up to seven feet tall, but I prune mine in the fall to limit size. After reading up, I’ll move pruning to late winter right after they flower. Turns out I’ve been cutting off potential blooms with my fall trimming.

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