Dorothy Wycoff PierisPieris japonica 'Dorothy Wyckoff'
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Pieris japonica 'Dorothy Wyckoff'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Dorothy Wyckoff Pieris is a medium-sized evergreen shrub that reaches around 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide, with leathery dark green leaves. The new leaves are coppery red and in cold winters the leaves may turn dark red. The flower buds appear early, and all through winter they are attractive, developing like spreading fingers, and strongly red for months. In spring the buds turn pink and then white, making a striking contrast with the red stems. This beautiful and elegant shrub is perfect in any garden, from formal to woodland and Asian.
Grow the Dorothy Wyckoff Pieris in semi-shade – morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal. The dappled shade beneath widely spaced trees is also suitable. The best soil for this plant will be rich, moist, well-drained and acidic. It grows best in areas with moderate climates; winters that are not too cold and summers that are cooler and damp. Pests and diseases are rare and deer usually ignore it. It’s an easy plant to grow if the conditions are suitable, and needs no special care or pruning.
Spring in the garden is a wonderful season, when the buds that have waited, hidden, all winter burst into beautiful bloom, creating a magical time and making everything fresh and new again. There are also some special plants where the buds are almost as lovely as the flowers, and brighten not just spring but the winter months too. Outstanding among these are the Pieris shrubs, often called andromeda by older gardeners. For an outstanding example of just how lovely winter buds can be, long before they burst into bloom, it’s hard to look past the Dorothy Wyckoff Pieris. The mounded evergreen shrub carries pendulous bunches of deep red buds all through winter, looking beautiful and filled with promise. When the warmth of spring touches them they fulfill that promise by opening into delicate white bells, like lily-of-the-valley, making a beautiful display and touching our hearts with their beauty. An attractive evergreen the rest of the year, this beautiful plant deserves a home in every suitable garden.
The Dorothy Wyckoff Pieris is a small to medium-sized evergreen shrub, growing steadily into a plant around 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The leathery, dark-green leaves are smooth and glossy, about 2 to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide, with very fine serrations along the edge. The new leaves that come just as flowering peaks are a warm reddish color, and in winter, at least in cooler zones, they turn darkly red again. By late fall the first signs of spring flowering can be seen, as tiny red ‘fingers’ clustering at the top of each stem. These slowly develop over winter, becoming clusters of hanging buds with the stems and buds colored a bold dark red. In spring the bell-shaped flowers open all along the 6-inch hanging stems, pink to begin and white when fully open, contrasting with the red stems and flower supports (the calyx). These long clusters resemble the flowers of lily-of-the-valley, a name sometimes used for this beautiful shrub. A plant in bloom is simply gorgeous, with the red and white display obscuring most of the leaves. Blooming lasts about 3 weeks, and towards the end the new leaves break out in clusters above the blooms, flashing glossy and red. The flowers fade to insignificant seed pods.
This beautiful evergreen is perfect for all semi-shaded parts of your garden – around your home on the eastern side perhaps, or where a shade tree offers afternoon protection. Plant it out in beds, where it grows well with azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and Kalmia (mountain laurel). It is just as effective in semi-natural areas in open woodland, or in the most formal garden setting.
The Dorothy Wyckoff Pieris grows best in areas with moderate climates, and good rainfall, and it is cold resistant into zone 5. Avoid very hot zones, and areas with frequent drought.
The ideal position for this shrub, especially in warmer zones, is with morning sun and afternoon shade. It should be planted in rich, moist, well-drained soil that is acidic, with a pH below 6.5. It is less particular about pH than many other acid-loving plants, and using chelated iron will often allow it to be grown in more alkaline soils. Use generous amounts of lime-free organic material when preparing the planting spot, and use it annually as mulch over the roots, spreading it in fall. In zone 7 and 8 it can be grown in a planter box or tub, using soil blended for acid-loving plants, if your garden conditions are not suitable.
Pests and diseases are very rare on the Dorothy Wyckoff Pieris, which is also usually left alone by deer. All parts of the plant have some toxicity, but pets rarely bother with it. Once the soil and light levels are right this plant is easy to grow. No pruning is needed, but dead-heading of the spent flowers is valuable to develop the crop for the next year. Remove just the flower heads, without damaging the foliage. Do not trim in summer or it won’t flower. Some shaping of older bushes by removing thin, weak shoots is useful, but otherwise it is best left to grow naturally.
Often called Japanese andromeda, Pieris japonica is a plant that is native to the islands of Japan and Taiwan. It also grows in parts of China. Wild plants have green buds and white flowers, but over time plants with red colors have been discovered. The variety called ‘Dorothy Wyckoff’ was found or bred in New Jersey in 1953. Two nurseries, one in New Jersey and one in Maryland, first introduced it in their catalogues in 1960. We don’t know who Dorothy Wyckoff was, and the details of the story of this lovely plant have mostly been lost.
The beauty of this lovely shrub in bloom has been recognized twice by the Royal Horticultural Society of the UK, once in 1984 with an Award of Merit and again in 2000 with a First Class Certificate. So you know that discerning gardeners appreciate its special appeal, and we know you will too. Order now, because beauty like this never lasts long.