Pieris, lily-of-the-valley shrub (Pieris japonica)
Quick facts and care essentials
• Climate zones 3-9, 14-17, 31-35, 37
• Partial to full shade
• Regular watering
A useful shrub for shady parts of the garden, pieris is often grown under taller broad-leafed evergreen trees. Most striking when it is adorned with white, pink, or nearly red flowers in late winter to early spring, it stays attractive throughout the year thanks to its glossy dark green foliage. Since it is taller than it is wide (to an eventual 9 by 6 feet), it’s a suitable choice for somewhat narrow spaces. It grows slowly, so start with plants in 15- or 5-gallon containers.
Flowers of all pieris resemble lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria), hence the common name.
Give moist, well-drained, acid soil rich in humus. Attractive shape and lush appearance make pieris a good companion for rhododendrons or azaleas, which sometimes have less desirable leaf coloration and leggy growth. Prune by pinching off dead flowers.
Note: Leaves and flowers of pieris are toxic if ingested.