Mountain Fire PierisPieris japonica 'Mountain Fire'
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Pieris japonica 'Mountain Fire'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Mountain Fire Pieris, or Lily-of-the-valley bush, is a medium-sized evergreen shrub growing to 6 or 8 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide. It has attractive glossy foliage and a bushy, rounded form. In early spring it carries beautiful pure white flowers in hanging bunches, and these are followed by bright red new leaves, which hold their brilliance for weeks, before turning rich green. Grow it among background or foundation evergreens, or in woodland areas. If you don’t have suitable soil, grow it in a large planter, pot or half-barrel, where it will thrive for years.
Grow the Mountain Fire Pieris in full sun in cooler zones, and with afternoon shade in warmer ones. The soil should be rich, moist and well-drained, and acidic, with a pH value below 6.5. Water regularly in summer, as it is not very drought resistant, but good drainage is also needed. Mulch with rich, lime-free organic material to conserve moisture and keep the roots cool. Pests and diseases are rare, and deer normally leave it alone. Removing spent flowers is helpful but not essential, and this plant needs very little maintenance if grown in a suitable place.
We all love rounded evergreen shrubs with dark green glossy foliage, and they are excellent choices for foundation planting around your home, or in the background of garden beds. But why settle just for green leaves? With a little more thought you can enjoy lovely evergreens, with the bonus of spectacular spring color and flowers too. It may take a little longer to establish itself, but the Mountain Fire Pieris will become a larger shrub, 6 or even 8 feet tall and wide, with a dense, rounded form, that rivals any evergreen for structure and form. Plus, it has gorgeous trusses of hanging white flowers in spring, that look like lily-of-the-valley, and spectacular bright red spring shoots that slowly mature to dark green, making a colorful display through spring and early summer. It is also a perfect woodland plant, and an excellent backdrop to azaleas and rhododendrons.
The Mountain Fire Pieris is a rounded evergreen shrub, growing in time to be between 6 and 8 feet tall, and between 4 and 6 feet wide. It is well-furnished with dense foliage, becoming more open at the base with age, and revealing attractive dark reddish-brown to gray roughly-textured bark. The leaves are long ovals, between 2 and 4 inches long. They are glossy and dark green, with a very finely serrated margin. The leaves cluster at the ends of the stems, and new leaves, which appear as the flowers are fading, are brilliant red, creating a wonderful effect that is like a spectacular red-flowering shrub from a distance. It takes several weeks for the new growth to turn slowly green, passing through many shades of pink and coppery tones to get there. The rich green leaves remain attractive all winter.
In fall you will see the beginning of the following year’s blossoms, as small greenish finger-like clusters at the ends of every branch. These slowly expand during the winter, and in early spring, generally in March or April, the flowers will begin to open. They are abundant, and they are carried on 6-inch flower spikes that hang in clusters all over the bush They look a lot like the flowers of lily-of-the-valley, with a faint fragrance. A plant in bloom, at first in graceful white, and then as the new shoots emerge, glowing pink and red, is a gorgeous sight in any garden.
With its dense and substantial form, this plant is the perfect shrub for background planting, in beds, woodland areas or around your home. Mix it with other evergreens, including rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias for a charming and colorful garden for months and months. Use it as a foundation plant, behind smaller shrubs, or beneath trees. If you don’t have suitable soil for this beautiful plant, then grow it in a large planter or tub. Its fibrous root system means it will grow in planters for years, and you can control its needs easily.
This shrub is hardy from zone 5 to zone 8, and thrives in areas with cool winters and mild, damp summers. It is not so successful in places with hot, dry summers.
In cooler zones plant in a sunny location, shaded in spring from the morning sun. This will protect the blooms from potential damage by any late frosts during the flowering season. In warmer zones plant with some afternoon shade, or in light partial shade, such as the dappled light beneath deciduous trees. The soil should be rich and moist, but well-drained, and this plant is not drought-resistant. The soil should also be acidic, with a pH no higher than 6.5. It is easy to test your soil for this. If your neighbors are growing rhododendrons or azaleas, you will be able to grow the Mountain Fire Pieris easily. If you don’t have suitable soil, grow the Mountain Fire Pieris in a large planter or tub, using potting soil blended for acid-loving plants. Make sure the planter has a drainage hole, and water when the surface of the soil becomes dry.
No specific care is needed for the Mountain Fire Pieris, and it is easy to grow in the right soil and conditions. It normally has no pests or diseases of importance, unless the soil is wet and poorly drained. Deer usually leave it alone. It is helpful to remove the spend flowers, but otherwise no pruning is needed or desirable. If you do want to prune, do this immediately after flowering, so that there is time for new stems to develop fully, and bloom the following year. Removing a few of the longest stems each year on an older bush, to keep it compact, is better than waiting a long time and then pruning it hard.
The Japanese Pieris, Pieris japonica, was once called Andromeda, and it is sometimes also called the lily-of-the-valley bush. It was introduced into Europe and America in the second-half of the 19th century, along with many other well-known garden shrubs that came to us from Asia. The variety ‘Mountain Fire’ is renowned for its brilliant new spring growth, and it is a reliable, classic form dating from the 1960s. It was discovered in British Columbia, Canada and released to the nursery trade in 1976.
The Mountain Fire Pieris is a well-established favorite with gardeners who know their stuff. It received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society of the UK in 1993, which is a solid recommendation. We know you will love its months of color, but our stock is limited, so order now, because we won’t be able to keep such a popular and highly-regarded plant in stock for very long at all.