Fire-N-Ice PierisPieris hybrid 'FIRE N ICE'
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Pieris hybrid 'FIRE N ICE'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Fire n Ice Pieris is a medium-sized evergreen shrub that will reach at least 5 feet tall and wide. It has glossy leaves that are edged in white, creating a bright and interesting effect all year long. In spring long hanging trusses of white flowers like lily-of-the-valley grow from the end of every branch, even on young plants. The new leafy shoots are brilliant red, and they turn soft lime-green as they mature and begin to show their variegated white edges. This plant is excellent for open woodland areas, or for beds anywhere in the garden. It can also be grown in containers for many years.
The Fire n Ice Pieris grows in sun or partial shade, or in the dappled shade beneath trees. It should be grown in well-drained acidic soil enriched with plenty or organic material, and the soil should be moist but not wet. In planters use a soil blended for acid-loving plants. Pests and diseases are normally not an issue, and deer usually leave it alone. No pruning is needed to keep its dense and bushy form.
Through much of the south-east, and in the north-west, many people have acidic soil. There is a whole world of plants that thrive in those soils, from familiar azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias, to plants less well known, such as the mountain laurel, or the lily-of-the-valley bush. That last shrub, coming from Japan and China, has been rising in prominence, and many beautiful forms are available. These are not seen in gardens so often, simply because they are unfamiliar, so don’t make that mistake with the Fire n Ice Pieris, because this wonderful evergreen shrub will be a source of constant beauty in your garden. From its fiery red spring shoots to its white-edged foliage, and not forgetting the pendulous trusses of pure-white flowers that grace it in spring, it is always fascinating and beautiful.
The Fire n Ice Pieris is a rounded evergreen shrub that grows at a moderate pace to be 5 feet tall and wide, maturing in time to be as much as 8 feet tall. The leaves are smooth, lustrous, slender ovals tapering to a point, with very finely serrated edges, and up to 2½ inches long. The foliage is dense, crowding the stems, and creates a full, bushy shrub with the lower branches only becoming visible when the plant matures. New shoots in spring emerge a striking and vibrant bright red, giving this plant a very attractive and colorful look at that time. As the red fades the leaves turn bright lime green, and a white edge begins to develop. The leaves mature to a rich mid-green, with an icy-white irregular margin around them. This variegation is held all through summer, fall and winter, so this plant is significantly brighter in the garden than other Pieris bushes, which are a uniform dark green.
In late winter and early spring the beautiful flowers appear. These are carried in hanging bunches at the ends of the previous year’s stems, and they are produced profusely even on very young plants. There are many flower clusters on each stem, and each one is up to 7 inches long, carrying about 25 pure-white hanging flowers, shaped like tiny bells. They look like hanging lily-of-the-valley, although these plants are not at all related to each other. This very showy bloom season lasts 2 weeks or more, and just as the blooms are finishing those bright red shoots emerge.
This beautiful shrub is perfect in beds or borders, and its neat look means it fits perfectly into more formal gardens, as well as looking wonderful in more natural woodland areas, where it will be very much at home. Plant it in sheltered areas around your house, or further away, but make sure it is in a prominent position where you can enjoy its beauty. If you don’t have suitable soil (or even if you do), this is an excellent plant for large tubs and planters, because the fine, fibrous root system means it will thrive and grow in containers for many years. In a pot you can move it around to enjoy it, and also to adjust the light available for optimal growth.
The Fire n Ice Pieris is completely hardy from zone 5 to 7, and in zone 8 in the northwest. In zone 5 choose a more sheltered, bright place, and give it a little more shade in warmer zones.
This plant will grow in full sun or partial shade. In sunny locations, especially in warmer areas, the soil should be moist, and afternoon shade is often beneficial. It also grows perfectly in the open, dappled shade of deciduous woodlands, and on the north side of buildings and walls. It grows best in moist but well-drained acidic soils containing plenty of organic material. A steady supply of moisture is needed for optimal growth. If you have a new garden, test the pH of your soil with a simple kit, or see if your neighbors are growing azaleas or rhododendrons. If they are, and if your pH is 6.5 or less, you can grow the Fire n Ice Pieris. If not, then plant it in a container with a drainage hole, using potting soil blended for acid-loving plants.
Mulch each spring with rich, lime-free organic material, and maintain a steady supply of moisture for the best growth. This plant will not grow in wet soil, however, so good drainage is needed. Feed plants in planters and tubs regularly with liquid fertilizers for acid-loving plants. Pests and diseases are not normally a problem, and deer usually ignore this plant. Pruning is not usually needed, but removing the dead flowers is beneficial. If you do need to trim an older plant, do this only immediately after flowering. If the soil is suitable, and with appropriate light and moisture, this is not really a difficult plant to grow at all.
There are two species of Pieris that are important for gardens. One, the Japanese Lily-of-the-valley, Pieris japonica, is a medium-size shrub with glossy foliage and copper-colored young shoots. The other, Pieris formosa, has a variety called forrestii, from south-western China. That plant has bright red new shoots and long flower panicles, but it is unfortunately not very hardy. A form with exceptional red shoots, called ‘Wakehurst’, was found in the UK in the 1920s. Around 1946, at the Sunningdale Nurseries, also in the UK, a chance hybrid seedling was found between Pieris japonica and Pieris formosa var. forrestii ‘Wakehurst’. It combined the hardiness of the Japanese pieris with the beautiful red growths and large flower clusters of ‘Wakehurst’. That plant is called ‘Forest Flame’. Then, in 1992, Jim Ellefson at Kramer’s Nursery in Mt. Angel, Oregon, spotted a unique branch on a plant of ‘Forest Flame’, that had leaves with beautiful white margins. He propagated it, and that piece became the plant known as ‘FIRE N ICE’. He patented his discovery in 2007, after growing it for a decade to test its worthiness and appreciate its potential.
This plant is one of the very best Pieris available, because it is interesting and attractive all year round, not just in spring. Always in short supply, our stock will soon be gone. Order now, and enjoy the beauty of this shrub in your own garden.