Unhappy japonica

kittens(Zone 5)April 21, 2012

What do I need to do for my japonica? It's tagged as Pieris Japonica - Dorothy Wyckoff Andromedia.

Thanks in advance!

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Pieris japonica is commonly called andromeda. Just calling it japonica is confusing since many Asian species have japonica as part of their scientific name. It wants organic mulch, watering well going into winter and regular checks if you don't have rain for a bit to be sure it isn't drying out in summer. Right now it looks like it got winter burned, but it is putting out new leaves. You are at the northern end of where this shrub will grow, so if you can give it some winter shade it may be happier.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 1:43PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

is it anywhere near that huge maple???

if so.. its water deficient


    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 3:24PM
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kittens(Zone 5)

They are between 15-25 feet from the big tree in the front. They are on the other side of the driveway going into my back yard. There's an oak on the side there near them. I had them against the fence in my backyard (all shade, too) when they start looking bad so I moved them to this spot. It's mostly full shade all day once the oak leafs out on that side of the house. I'll have to start tending them and spruce up the soil. I can't say I ever even watered them after they got planted...

Here's a baby leaf that was still left on the big tree in the front, Ken. Please let it be an oak and not maple or I might be stuck with ugly boxwood in the front:

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 5:58PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

All in all, it doesn't look too bad, especially after a winter with little snow to protect it. Pieris 'Dorothy Wykoff' would be at the edge of its hardiness range in Z5, so anything you can do to protect it from winter sun and wind such as a burlap screen will help a good deal.

It's clearly an oak tree, but if the pieris is in deep shade all day, it's not likely to set many flower buds. Some morning sun, perhaps by limbing up the oak, would help.

The entire pieris genus is plagued by inaccurate and misleading names. They are frequently called 'japonica' which is not a species name at all and 'andromeda' which refers to entirely different genus.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 5:09AM
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kittens(Zone 5)

You know, I went to a really nice nursery for these and he failed to mention any draw-backs. The tag said it was hardy to -20 but I'm used to doing perennials which die back in the winter. It's going to take me a bit of trial and error to learn all about shrubbing. I'm going to have to take one item at a time and do some reading. The box stores are sporting a couple of varieties which I bought to test out. One's a Forest Flame and the other Valley Rose (the tags say Andromeda too, hence my confusion). Now I'm regretting the choice if I'm going to have to burlap them. The coloring on them is superb, though!

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 10:58AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Around here, they tend to only last a couple of years. It's a combination of cold winters, and too high pH. It isn't a plant I'd get multiples of before doing a pH test.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 11:10AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Pieris, like many Ericaceous plants, require pretty acid soils in order to thrive. Is that the situation with your soil...a low pH?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 12:15PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

Many nurseries and wholesale growers tend to exaggerate the hardiness of their offerings for obvious reasons even though in the long term it's a self defeating practice. Pieris varieties such as the 'Valley' series from the West Coast and the various red leaved ones like 'Forest Flame' may technically survive in parts of Z5 but they are not well suited at all to such cold winters. 'Dorothy Wykoff' is probably a bit better adapted than those being sold at the big box stores.

They do need acid soils high in organic matter and most definitely some form of winter wind protection. Preventative spraying for lace bugs starting in late May is also a very good idea.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 5:17AM
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