Azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias are well-known plants that thrive on acid soils, and they are grown and admired for their great beauty. But they are not the only beautiful plants that grow in acid soils, in similar woodland conditions. Top of the list for plants that will grow alongside your azaleas is the Pieris, also known as the lily-of-the-valley shrub, or Japanese andromeda. The clue is in the name, and this wonderful shrub flowers in spring with a profusion of hanging clusters of scented white flowers, that closely resemble lily-of-the-valley, although they are not at all related.
There are many varieties to choose from, but one of the very best, especially well-suited to smaller gardens and containers, is the Cavatine Pieris. This dwarf evergreen shrub forms a mound of glossy foliage, and in spring it is smothered with beautiful white blooms that will take your breath away.
Growing Cavatine Pieris
The Cavatine Pieris grows slowly into a shrub that is about 2 feet tall and 2 or 3 feet wide, ultimately reaching 4 feet tall and wide. It is perfect for the front of beds containing taller shrubs, or to surround the base of tall trees. It can be planted as an informal edging along a shady pathway, or it can be grown in pots and planters on a shady terrace – the perfect way to grow it if you don’t have acid soil. The oval leaves are deep green, leathery and glossy, 2 to 3 inches long and ½ to 1 inch wide. They are always attractive, making this shrub valuable even when it is not in flower. In late winter or early spring, depending on your growing zone, sprays of flowers grow from the ends of the branches. This are made up of many long, narrow stems, each one clustered with small, bell-shaped flowers. These arch over the foliage in a very charming way, making a beautiful show for 2 or 3 weeks. The white flowers are sweetly scented, and the individual stems look a lot like sprays of lily-of-the-valley flowers.
Planting and Initial Care
The Cavatine Pieris is hardy from zone 5 to zone 8, and it thrives in moderately warm zones, with good summer rainfall. It should be planted in partial shade, perhaps with morning sun and afternoon shade, or in the dappled shade of deciduous trees overhead. In warmer zones continuous light shade will protect it from scorching. It should be grown in acidic soil, with a pH lower than 6.5, and in moist but well-drained soil rich in organic material. It grows in exactly the same conditions as other acid-loving plants like azaleas, and if those plants grow well for you or your neighbors, then the Cavatine Pieris will grow well too. Prepare the planting area by adding plenty of rich, lime-free compost, rotted leaves, peat-moss, or pine needles. Water twice a week for the first season, and then as needed to keep the ground moist but not saturated. You can easily check the pH of your soil with a simple kit from a garden center or hardware, and it should be between 4.5 and 6.5. If it is between 6.5 and 7.0 you can probably grow this plant well if you apply chelated iron in spring and fall to the root zone.
If you don’t have suitable soil, the easiest solution is to use a planter box or pot for your Cavatine Pieris. Make sure the pot has good drainage, and use a soil blended for acid-loving plants. You can make attractive mixed planters for shady areas using the Cavatine Pieris, Encore Azaleas, and winter-blooming camellias. They will be in bloom for most of the year, and always look beautiful. Use liquid fertilizer for acid-loving plants regularly for the best results.
Once you satisfy the soil and light requirements of the Cavatine Pieris, it is easy to grow. It normally has no significant pests or diseases, and deer usually leave it completely alone. The only care needed is to cut off the flower spikes as soon as they are finished blooming, being careful to just remove the flowers, and not the leaves or branches. This will prevent seeding, which is not very attractive, and encourage lots of flowers for the following years. With its compact form this plant will almost certainly never need pruning. Mulch each spring with rich organic material when growing in beds, and water in dry weather, aiming to keep the soil always moist but not wet.
History and Origins of Cavatine Pieris
The Japanese andromeda, Pieris japonica, grows wild in the forest of Japan, in mountainous regions. It also grows in Taiwan and eastern China. The name ‘andromeda’ comes from an earlier name once used by botanists. The wild plant is a shrub or small tree that varies a great deal in size. It can be anything from a 3-foot shrub to a 10 to 30-foot small tree. The variety called ‘Cavatine’ was grown from seed collected on the Japanese island of Yakushima. This island is known for its extraordinary forests of Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica), and it is the home to many rare plants. The seedlings was grown at the famous Esveld Nursery, in Boskoop, The Netherlands, where many new plants have been created, and this beautiful dwarf shrub was a selection from among them. It was first released in 1982. In 1997 it was awarded the prestigious ‘Award of Garden Merit’ by the Royal Horticultural Society of Britain.
This beautiful dwarf shrub is always in high demand, and we only have a limited stock, grown for us by specialists in acid-loving plants. Order now, and raise your gardening to a whole new level, with the beautiful Cavatine Pieris.