semi-shade / partial sun - Pieris Japonica

gardenbug(8b)March 14, 2011

Zone 8a, British Columbia

Today I purchased 2 small Pieris japonica "Purity"

I was hoping to plant them in my Perennial Garden, near the Honorable Jean Montague Rhododendrons. The garden is located on the Northwest side of my house, where it receives morning shade and afternoon sun. The tag on the Pieris says...semi-shade / partial sun

So, my question is ...would morning shade and afternoon sun considered to be.. .semi-shade / partial sun?

Also, would you recommend I use peat moss when planting?

Thank you.

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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

Usually morning sun is better because it's not as hot as sun in the afternoon. In the cool climate of the PNW, you shouldn't have any problem with where you propose to plant, especially since rhodendrons are growing there already.

Pieris needs acid soil, but the dry powdery peat available at garden centers is,imo, useless and actually harmful because it sheds water once it dries out. Since rhododendrons are already growing there, your soil is acid enough. If you want to supplement the soil - probably not necessary - use aged soft wood bark, leaf mold, aged conifer needles.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 5:59AM
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Pieris can grow in the PNW in full sun but will be happier anywhere they can receive at least part shade. And our soils do tend to be acidic so minimal amending is necessary. Like the rhodies, they develop a shallow root system so avoid planting too deeply. And they appreciate a good deep watering periodically in our dry summers.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 10:36AM
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Thank you maingrower and gardengal.
Where can you get leaf mold or aged conifer needles? Thx.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 12:33PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Same conditions as the rhododendron, good companion plant. If your are satisfied with the results gotten in that spot from 'Jean Marie de Montague', then the pieris should work there also.

Here we have grown the same rhododendron for decades in a western exposure. The flowers may, however show the effects of afternoon sun if warm weather comes at bloom time - afternoon shade is definitely preferable even with kinds such as this where the foliage holds up. The peak flowering of rhododendrons is rather brief to begin with, having the flowers cook makes it even more transitory.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 12:35PM
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Hi bboy,
It's hard for me to tell if the rhodies are doing well or not since I've never grown them before. I can tell you that the leaves are still green, they have big flower buds on them now and so far, each summer they gets lots of nice big beautiful red trusses. My only concern so far would be if they are growing fast enough. I planted them about three years ago and they are only about 3' tall. Shouldn't they be taller by now? I thought they were suppose to get up to around 5' or 6' tall.

mainegrower suggested I get some leaf mould and/or conifer needles but I don't know where to get these.

I will plant the pieris closer to the north side in front of the yew tree, maybe the yew can give it a bit of shade from the hot west sun exposure. Hope this makes sense.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 1:19PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

If there are no places nearby that you could gather - with the land owners permission - leaf mold or conifer needles, you'll probably have more success in finding aged bark. It may be available in bags, but if not, any place selling bark mulch would probably be willing to sell you a small quantity of the black partially decomposed stuff.

Even in the ideal conditions of the PNW, rhododendrons grow slowly - doubling in size in only 3 years would be very, very unusual. In all other ways, your rhododendrons sound fine.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 5:57AM
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mainegrower..I always go to the nursery and buy decomposed bark mulch, is that what you mean? Great, I'm happy to hear that my rhodies sound fine to you. So, like bboy says, my pieris should grow okay there too. Now I feel a whole lot better. Now, if we could just get it to STOP raining here.
Thank you.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 1:47PM
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Good News!
I was at my favorite nursery the other day and asked about pine needles? They told me they have a couple of pine trees with tons of needles that needed to be cleaned up and said I could come and gather up all I want. I also purchase rotted bark mulch from them every year now.
Thanks very much for your help everyone.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 2:40PM
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I had two Mountain Fire cultivars. One fried in the westerly afternoon sun. MUCH happier on the north face of my house, where my Rhododendrons never bloomed. My Rhody's can handle more sun than my Pieris did. I suspect a northeast facing location would be ideal for better coloring with morning sun and afternoon shade, but I have no room there.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2011 at 11:22AM
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