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Japanese pieris (Pieris japonica) is an upright evergreen shrub native to Asia. It is cultivated as an ornamental shrub, beloved for its emerging bronze foliage and droopy clusters of showy spring flowers. 

There are quite a few Pieris japonica varieties to choose among, so it’s best to get an overview before you head out to the plant store. Read on for more information.

Varieties of Pieris Japonica

If you are seeking a shrub with year-round interest, you can’t do better than to select a variety of Pieris japonica, also called Lily-of-the-Valley bush or Japanese Andromeda, The shrubs typically grow to 9-12 feet (3-4 m.) tall and produce bead-like buds in late summer that dazzle against the tree’s dark foliage all winter. They open in early spring, covering the bush with fragrant, cascading chains of white, pink, or red flowers. 

The many different varieties of Pieris allow every gardener to find the perfect plant for their location. Dwarf Pieris varieties can even be cultivated in large containers on the patio. 

Japanese Andromeda Varieties

Perhaps the most popular variety is Pieris Mountain Fire. Instead of new bronzed foliage, this cultivar offers new leaves in a brilliant, fiery orange-red. It is said to outshine the snowy flowers.

For extremely showy flowers, Pieris japonica White Cascade takes the cake. This cultivar wins hearts with its incredible five-week flower show, featuring long, drooping clusters of sparkling white blossoms. This variety grows slowly to 6 feet (2 m.). 

You’ll find another kind of wonderful in Pieris japonica Tiki. This exceptional shrub only grows to 4 feet (1.5 m.) tall with a compact, rounded form. Its snow-white blossoms appear in layers like the frosting on a wedding cake, nodding gracefully on arching stems. 

Dwarf Pieris Varieties 

If you are interested in adding Japanese andromeda to your container garden, consider the dwarf varieties of the shrub. One noteworthy option is Pieris Bisbee Dwarf that tops out at 2 feet (.66 m.) tall. This compact plant has white flowers, bright crimson new growth and leaves half the normal size.

Another to look at is Little Heath. It is slightly taller, growing to 4 feet (1.3 m.) with interesting, silvery-green leaves edged in white. Karenoma is taller still and can grow to 6 feet (2 m.). Its winter buds are soft pink but open into white flowers. 

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.