Pieris Japonica with....?

ahaynie(z6 UT)April 21, 2006

I'm considering planting a Pieris japonica purity as a foundation planting under the front window of my house. There is also a small japanese maple close by. What would you recommend I plant with these plants? I don't want to make it too formal of a look since the rest of my yard isn't that formal. Do you think a daphe odora would go with these plants? I know rhododendrons go well with the pieris japonica but I'm not sure they grow too well here in Utah. Does anyone have any other recommendations?

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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Well the conditions needed to grow a pieris and Japanese maple are similar to that of the rhodie. So if you can make the soil acidic enough (and be willing to maintain it like that), then you could try a rhodie.

I've always considered the pieris like a specimen type plant - particularly when in bloom. But I suppose you could try a daphne nearby. One of my BILs bought a variegated one last year and it's kind of cool looking. Something like that as an evergreen shrub might provide an interesting contrast to the pieris.

Just note that none of these plants are fast growers so it will take quite some time for them to enlarge to become what is traditionally considered "foundation".

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 1:42PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

From what I've seen here, rhododendrons are very lime tolerant and easy plants to grow compared to pieris. It seemed to be a very hot plant about ten years ago, and many people planted them. After about three years, they were all gone. Every single one of them. They couldn't take the lime.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 2:29PM
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ahainie, Pieris has the same requirements as rhododdendrons, but little bid more trickier at the very beginning. I don't know your particular sun/shade situation, but Pieris MUST be protected from the winter sun for at least 2-3 years untill fully established.

Kay, some rhodies are more lime tolerant than the other.
For example, old good 'Cunningham White' could be grown in ph close 7.0 and definitely in 6.5.
Almost every cultivar that was produced by using CW as one of the parents could be growh in neutral or even slightly limy soil.
Germans created new generation of lime tolerant rhodies, INKARHO, where they first created lime-tolerant rootstock and then grafted any possible rhodie on that rootstock.
They are not available yet in US, but I just came from Ukraine and saw a trial planting of 5 regular and 5 INKARHO grafted 'Gomer Waterer' rhodies. Region where I was is clearly z5 and have a soil ph in 6.2-6.4 range.
Both groups were planted 2 years ago as a 2 years old plants. This spring INKARHO were almost as twice the size of the regular ones.

Here is a link that might be useful: INKARHO

    Bookmark   April 21, 2006 at 8:40PM
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I don't know how they'll do in your area but mixed with my maple and Pieris is dwarf Burford Holly, Sarcococca, and what looks like Heather (it's not, but I'm having a senior moment!)

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 12:14AM
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ahaynie(z6 UT)

When you say that these plants are slow growing what exactly does that mean? How long will it take for a pieris japonica to get its full size? Can you recommend any faster growing shrubs that would go with the japanese maple already planted. Also I'm placing these shurbs under a window that faces east so it gets some sun during the day, but not much. Will a pieris japonica survive with that? Ego45 mentioned that they must be protected from the full winter sun for 2-3 years.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 3:29PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

George, my pH is 7.2, so it seems to be quite a bit higher than where sane people try to grow rhododendrons. I looked for a Cunningham White last year, and the only place I could find it was mail order from the West Coast for some ridiculous amount of money. Right now, I'm trying some R. catawbiensis albas instead. The local nurseries are pretty clueless about all of this. You wouldn't believe the number of times I've been told the soil tests are wrong.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 4:15PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

ahaynie - There are some that grow a wee bit faster than others - but generally they grow about 4" - 6" a year or less. Quite a few of the ericaceous shrubs are slow-growing like that. It also depends on how big a plant you buy. I have seen mature b&b's for sale that are about 4ft - 5ft tall already, but they will still take some time to get much bigger than that and can be expensive.

My mother's took about 35 years to reach about 8ft tall for its tallest branch, afterwhich she had us rejuvenation-prune it, sawing about 5 ft of the tallest branch off (I almost died!) and a couple feet off a few other branches to encourage some more sprouting down lower and near the base. It is south-facing but right across from it is her neighbor's house so it really only gets dappled sun during the mid day and a few hours of sun in the afternoon because the large trees all around block most of the sun. This is what her plant looked like before rejuvenation (yep - roped up...lol)

And last year, 3 years after cutting it back:

The protection that Ego45 mentioned is because they are very sensitive to winter wind dessication and burn until they are well established (particularly if the winter sun hits the leaves when the fine young roots are still frozen and unable to supply water to those winter-warmed leaves).

    Bookmark   April 22, 2006 at 6:27PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

Mahonia aquifolium.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 2:49PM
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I was in your same situation last year...new garden! This one I've got nearly done, but you should see the bare spots in the sunny parts of my yard. :)

I planted pieris (massed) for its evergreen qualities, but was surprised and delighted by the long, changing spring show: from flowers to new growth color to fading growth color. Probably made me happy for 2 months.

I agree with the growth rates - best to start with a decent size shrub and then not worry too much about it outgrowing its spot anytime soon. If you still are worried about the mature size, one of my childhood homes had very mature (very large) specimens near the window but since they were planted far enough away from the window and the foliage is rather airy, it felt ok from the inside looking out (to me). Sunlight still came through and it was the shady side of the house anyway. I guess that's an issue of your preference in many many many years.

Back to the present time...for companion shrubs, I have a daphne, skimmia, rhododendron Yaku something, azalea Delaware white and hydrangea paniculata Tardivas all in the same area, with foster hollies at the (sunnier) ends. Everyone's doing well, but both the daphne and skimmia are going to take a long time to get up to size. Fair warning: the Tardivas are probably bigger than you want. But I love mixing in something deciduous...

My problem is that I don't have much late spring (May) to summer interest before those Tardiva start in late summer. Or fall color. I have room for one more 4-6x4-6 shrub. Would love to see if some of the suggestions you get would work for me!

Good luck! HIghly recommend the pieris.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 9:51AM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

corylopsis - I just read about an earlier blooming hydrangea paniculata called "Quick Fire" that blooms before the other paniculatas, with panicles that age to what appears to be a darker rose-red than any of the pinkish cultivars like "Pink Diamond", etc. It's a newer cultivar and I know that if I ever find one around here, I'm getting it! There are some places like Klehm's Song Sparrow" that is offering it but I expect it will gradually hit the general marketplace over the next couple years.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 11:07AM
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Dear Jenny,

OOOO! AHHH!! What a tantalizing plant!! Thanks for the recommendation, it was uncannily spot-on. What a great idea to transition that space from white and green to green + rose-red in the summer. I Love that idea.

Thank you so much! I'm supposed to be watching my plant budget very carefully, but I'll write back if I give into temptation soon...

By the way, if you check in again and want to write, what is BIL? And what is DH? I'm still very new to Garden WEb.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 12:55AM
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I finally took the plunge and cut out an assortment of junipers that had overgrown their spaces or were succumbing to not enough sunlight (Wichita Blue became very "thin" in the bottom third).

I've gobbled up the information on Pieris and made my first foray to a nursery to check 'em out. There was a particularly lovely variety was delightfully fragrant. I can deliver acid soil, and partial shade conditions easily.

I'm uncertain about how to protect against dessicating winter winds. My rhodies don't seem to be particularly bothered, nor do the hollies. What do you use? burlap? do you spray with the anti-dessicant stuff? (I know I won't do that).

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 10:32AM
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josie_z6b(z6b Philly)

The pieris in my mom's foundation planting is really big, (about 12-15 feet I think) and really old. They do absolutely love acid soil but these established ones are super-low maintainance. They look good with small-foliaged azaleas as well as rhodos.

They have mini-blueberries in front of them in the sun, and that looks nice, the blueberries need the same acid soil, have pink flowers in spring, and turn a great deep red color in fall.

There's a massive half-wild yew in this particular planting, NOT a meatball shrub, and it looks good. HYOOOGE, but good. Its protecting the pieris and a little baby crape myrtle from the wind.

Here we don't winter-protect, but there are other shrubs which catch the worst of the wind.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 3:21PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

corylopsis - That does look like a great one, doesn't it? I am definitely getting one if I see one on my next nursery run!! I may also get one for my mom to go along with her "Lime Light". Also BIL = "Brother-in-Law" and "DH" most often = "Dear Hubby" (although some have come up with other "D" words when describing thir husbands! LOL)

chelone - you could try creating a burlap cage to put around it during the first couple years - but only if you plan to plant it where it would be exposed to drying winds in winter. I think once established (probably by the 3rd year or so), they are able to handle adverse conditions better. I have used Wilt Pruf in the past, although I've also skipped it too. Usually the sighting of them is more important and can reduce the need for extraordinary protection.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2006 at 9:54AM
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jenny - thanks for the explanations! BIL I figured out eventually, but I was still stuck on DH.

chelone - I wish I could tell you how to protect the pieris. I haven't needed to in z6 or in z5 but they have been put in sheltered spots. All I can add is that I shouldn't have worried about sheltering them from winds before, what I needed to worry about was sheltering them from my large dogs, who found them tasty.

ahaynie, I forgot to say that I've got a sweet little nikko deutzia in the same area. as you're thinking about companion shrubs or perennials, please enjoy thinking (or wait and see in the spring) the colors of red and bronze and yellow-green that light up the new leaves sequentially. It's brilliant but unexpected if you haven't had pieris before (and I can't think of other shrubs that do this in the spring season, offhand). Leavened with white, my spring blues and yellows did fine, although I wouldn't have wanted any pinks.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 9:47AM
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saypoint(6b CT)

I planted 10 Fothergilla gardenii in my part sun front yard last fall, and loved the fall show they put on. They're blooming now with little creamy-white fluffy flowers. In the same area, I have Taxus baccata 'Repandens', Rhododendron maximum, Hydrangea quercifolia 'Snow Queen', Kalmia latifolia 'Sarah', Azalea poukhanensis 'Compacta', Hosta 'Sagae' and H. sieboldiana 'Elegans', Deutzia 'Nikko', and on the sunnier end, creeping Juniper and some Peony 'Raspberry Sherbet'.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 10:38AM
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callousedknees(z5 IN)

I don't know if you're still looking mad gallica, but there are 1 gal. Cunningham's White at my local big box store for $4. That's the big store that starts with a W. I was thinking about getting some and came home to research and found your post from last spring.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 11:32AM
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