Pieris japonica (Japanese Pieris)

Michael's Opinion

A very nice, elegant shrub. In our zone (5b), it probably wont get any larger than 5 feet, but it is still worthwhile to plant. It is somewhat picky as to soil type, so amending the soil with peat moss or other acid type material might be necessary.

Botanical Information

TypeTree (evergreen)
ReferencesMost garden centers
OriginFirst cultivated in 1870, introduced by David Don.


USDA Hardiness Zone 4b-7
USDA Hardiness Ref.
Canadian Hardiness Zone6-9
Canada Hardiness Ref.
RHS Hardiness Ref.
Temperature (°C)-31 to -34
Temperature (°F)-10 to-20
Flowering PeriodMarch

Description and Growing Information

General DescriptionFairly large, flowering, broadleaf evergreen shrub. New growth is red, maturing to a glossy, deep green. Flower buds appear in autumn, and stay the winter until they bloom the next spring.
ID CharacteristicNew leaves emerge red/bronze, but turn green as they mature. Produces many panicles of flowers in early April, which last 2-3 weeks.
ShapeDense, multi-stemmed, loosely rounded shape.
LandscapeExcellent evergreen plant, flowers early, and is beautiful when in flower. New growth is a nice red colour. Requires rich, moist, acidic soil, as well as part to full shade, to use as an understory shrub. Requires winter protection if grown in an exposed situation.
PropagationCan be grown from cuttings or seeds, which require no pre-treatment. Cuttings must be taken in August or September, and put under intermittent mist, with bottom heat of 17-21C.
CultivationRequires moist, rich, acidic soil and part shade. Needs winter protection in exposed situations, fertilize with a product for plants in acidic soil.
PestsChlorosis due to neutral or alkaline soils is a problem, but can be fixed. Lace bugs maybe a problem in some areas.
Notable SpecimensThe Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens, Niagara Falls, Ontario.
HabitatNative to Japan, Taiwan and China, grows in moist, rich, acidic soils, in partial shade.
Bark DescriptionBark is gray-brown in colour and slightly furrowed, but has little aesthetic value.
Bud DescriptionFlower buds form in late summer or early autumn, are green to red in colour, persist through the winter and provide some winter attraction. The Buds are small, 1-1.5cm long, and not as wide. The 5 sepals per bud fit into grooves on the unopened petals
Leaf DescriptionAlternate, 2-4cm wide by 6-10cm long. Obovate-oblong in shape, with petioles less than 1cm. New leaves emerge bronze-red, turning to dark green as they mature.
Flower DescriptionSmall, white, pendulous flowers grouped in panicles 10-15 cm long. Individual flowers are no more than 1cm long or wide, and are urn-like in appearance.
Fruit DescriptionBrown capsules, less than 1cm that persist through the winter, ornamentally insignificant.
Colour DescriptionNew growth is reddish, turning to dark green. Flowers are white.
Texture DescriptionMedium, fairly fine foliage, mature specimens can appear quite dense, with a haystack like appearance.