The secret’s out – plant breeders have improved on the large-growing Japanese pieris with the introduction of the dwarf shrub variety Mountain Snow™ Pieris.
This small evergreen shrub packs pest resistance and improved heat tolerance in a beautiful dwarf package. Showy cascades of white buds emerge in summer and continue through winter, before bursting into white flowers each spring. Red new growth adds even more visual interest, making pieris a focal point in your landscape design.
There’s a lot to love about this evergreen flowering shrub. Mountain Snow pieris is deer resistant, cold hardy and is ideal for the shade to part shade garden. Select one (or many) for your landscape and follow these five simple steps to ensure your showstopper thrives season after season.
Know your soil: Pieris like acidic soils
Mountain Snow™ Pieris, sometimes called lily of the valley shrub, belongs to the plant family Ericaceae along with rhododendrons and azaleas. Like its cousins, it requires acidic soil to flourish and may suffer nutrient deficiencies in alkaline soil.
Annual soil testing is the best way to monitor soil pH. Apply soil amendments and acid fertilizers as needed to maintain soil pH between 5 and 6.
Apply organic material
Mountain Snow™ Pieris grows best in soils enriched with organic matter. Organic matter breaks down rapidly in hot climates. Replenish organic matter each season by mixing compost or well-rotted manure into the soil, taking care not to disturb the shallow roots.
Maintain even moisture
Mountain Snow™ Pieris is sensitive to excessively dry or wet soils. In arid soils, the shallow roots may dry out quickly.
Water plants deeply and apply a layer of pine needle or other organic mulch to maintain even soil moisture. Root disease commonly occurs when it is planted in poorly drained soil. Consider planting the shrub in a raised bed if drainage is a problem.
Fertilize as needed
When soil pH is properly managed, Mountain Snow™ Pieris requires very little feeding or fertilizing. However, like any plant, the shrub will use nitrogen during active growth phases. Keep plants vigorous with deep green leaves by applying a yearly application of nitrogen.
Fertilizer can be applied before the bloom time in late winter or just after flowering in early spring (mid-May). Spread fertilizer evenly beneath the shrub and water it into the soil.
Deadhead if desired
Mountain Snow™ Pieris is a no-fuss foundation plant and requires very little pruning, other than the occasional removal of dead or broken limbs. While it is not 100 percent necessary, deadheading – or the removal of spent flowers – may be beneficial to plant growth and development.
Fading flowers enclose tiny developing seeds that draw upon a plant’s energy resources. Removing the spent flowers diverts that energy into new root and shoot growth. Deadheading also cleans up Mountain Snow™ Pieris so we may focus our attention on its lovely bronze new growth.
Above all, healthy plants are the secret to easy-care, low-growing evergreen shrubs. When given the right conditions and care, plants are more resilient and vigorous – more easily tolerating pest pressure and extreme weather. A little tender loving care goes a long way toward creating a beautiful garden.