Prelude Pieris

Pieris japonica ‘Prelude’

Prelude Pieris

Pieris japonica ‘Prelude’


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Prelude Pieris is a dwarf evergreen shrub growing about 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide, smothered in snow-white flower clusters in April and May. The new leaves are coppery-pink, adding beauty, and they turn dark green, staying that way through winter. The flower clusters develop over winter, and are attractive even before blooming begins. An ideal shrub for acidic woodland gardens with azaleas and rhododendrons, or mixed garden beds and for container growing.

  • Unique dwarf shrub for foreground planting
  • Smothered in pure-white flowers in April and May
  • New leaves are a striking coppery-pink
  • Suitable for container growing
  • Top-rated evergreen for woodland gardens

Full sun is best for the Prelude Pieris in cooler zones, and afternoon shade in warmer ones. It grows best in acidic soil that is well-drained but moist, and rich in organic material. It is normally free of pests or diseases and not eaten by deer. Apart from dead-heading, no attention is needed to grow this shrub. All parts of this plant can cause sickness in humans and animals, although cases are very rare.

Plant Hardiness Zones 5-8
Mature Width 2.5-3.5
Mature Height 1.5-2.5
Sun Needs Full Sun, Partial Sun
Zones 5-8

If you already know the plants often called Lily-of-the-valley bush, or Andromeda, then you know that Pieris are beautiful flowering evergreens that may take a little while to develop, but typically grow 6 to 8 feet tall and wide – substantial plants for larger beds in a garden. Perhaps your garden is smaller, and you look with envy at the beautiful spring display of these gorgeous bushes. Perhaps you don’t have much room, or want something for the front of your beds – or even for a planter box. If this sounds like you, then the Prelude Pieris is exactly what you are looking for. This dome-shaped bush grows only a couple of feet tall and spreads about 3 feet wide – perfect for foreground planting, or filling a smaller bed. Beautifully evergreen year round, with striking coppery new growth, when it blooms you will enjoy one of the most floriferous varieties around (love that word!), whose melliferous fragrance (and that one!) will captivate you.

Growing the PreludePieris

Size and Appearance

The Prelude Pieris is a dome-shaped evergreen shrub which grows into a broad bush around 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall. It has small oval leaves, 2 to 3 inches long, which are slightly lustrous, and a very dark green. Whorls of new leaves grow out on short stems as the spring flowers are fading, and these are a coppery-pink. The leaves hold these colors for several weeks, slowly changing to their mature dark green. This shrub remains attractively green throughout winter.

If you visit your bush in late fall you will see curious greenish ‘fingers’ clustering at the ends of the stems. These are the flowers for the following year, and they slowly expand through the winter months until they hang in pale-green clusters from all the branch ends. These clusters remain this way into spring, and this variety is later to bloom than many other Pieris, making it a valuable addition to extend the season of these lovely bushes. The flowers open in April and into May, on arching branches that are a little shorter and less pendulous than we see in most other Pieris. An abundance of flowers are produced, virtually hiding the leaves entirely – more than we have seen on other varieties. They are pure snow-white bells, packed tightly along the flower stems, and they do look a lot like the flowers of lily-of-the-valley, although these plants are not related. They have the sweet fragrance of honey, and last well, making a display that you are going to love.

Using the Prelude Pieris in Your Garden

The Prelude Pieris is perfect for foreground planting in your beds, along with your azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons – they all enjoy similar growing conditions like woodland gardens and partially-shade beds. Space plants 18 to 24 inches apart for edging or to create single larger groupings. If you don’t have suitable soil for these kinds of plants then the size of this bush is perfect for growing in pots or planters. Containers can be left outdoors all winter in zones 7 and 8, but in zones 5 and 6 it is safer to bury the container for the winter in the garden, lifting it again in spring. Notice that all parts of this plant are poisonous to most animals, although cases of poisoning of pets are very rare.


The Prelude Pieris is hardy from zone 5 to zone 8 – the unopened flower clusters are frost resistant. This plant grows best in areas with damp, cooler summers, and winters that are not too cold. It will be harder to grow in areas that have long, hot, dry summers.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

In cooler zones the Prelude’ Pieris will grow well in full sun – ideally with some early morning shade in spring, which protects against any damage to the flowers from a late frost. In the warmer zones afternoon shade is valuable, or the light dappled shade beneath deciduous trees. Rich, moist, but well-drained soil is needed for good growth, and this bush is not drought resistant. It also needs acidic soil, with a pH value below 6.5 and preferably closer to 5.5. If you don’t have suitable soil, then grow it in a planter with drainage holes, filled with soil blended for acid-loving plants.

Maintenance and Pruning

Once you have the right soil conditions and location, the Prelude Pieris is easy to grow and needs no special care. It generally has no pests or diseases that matter, and deer usually won’t eat it. You might want to trim off the spent flower heads, for neatness and to encourage buds for the next year, but don’t trim away any foliage. If you should one day need to prune it, do this only immediately after flowering and don’t cut the stems in summer. Plants in containers should be fed regularly with liquid fertilizers for acid-loving plants.

History and Origin of the Prelude Pieris

The Japanese Pieris, Pieris japonica, was at one time called Andromeda, and it is till often called Lily-of-the-valley bush. It came to us during the 19th century, when so many plants were introduced from China and Japan. It grows in Japan and eastern China, as well as on the island of Taiwan, beneath trees in mountainous areas. The variety called Prelude was released by the Esveld Nurseries, in Boskoop, the Netherlands, in 1982. It seems likely that it was created in part at least from low-growing wild plants that were found in 1970 by Robert de Belder on Mount Miyanoura, on the Japanese island of Yakushima. Robert and Jelena de Belger were renowned plant collectors and breeders who developed the famous Kalmthout Arboretum in Belgium and founded the International Dendrology Society.

Buying the Prelude Pieris at The Tree Center

The unique Prelude Pieris is perfect for the smaller garden, growing in planters or to add to your woodland garden. Its small size makes it very special among this group of shrubs, and its pure, snowy beauty in bloom brings joy wherever it grows. It was given the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society of England in 1996, and there isn’t a better recommendation of garden worthiness. Order now, because this rare variety is not often available, and always sells out immediately.

Back to top

Prelude Pieris

Pieris japonica ‘Prelude’