PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Pieris japonica

An old-fashioned common name for it is Andromeda. This is why we don’t like common names. Andromeda is the formal botanical/latin name for Andromeda polifolia and its common name is Bog Rosemary but it is not at all related to Rosemary and it is not a Pieris. Sheesh. Botanist Rich Old says it perfectly, “Common names serve only to distort rather than impart information.” Ok, enough venting…

Pieris japonica is a common landscape feature plant here in the PNW, typically planted in beds adjacent to a house as an evergreen placeholder. You probably don’t notice it half of the year unless it has been limbed up to expose the wonderfully sculptural shaggy-barked twisted & gnarled branching. You start to notice it in mid winter as it opens dense clusters of tiny white or pink flowers. Resident hummingbirds love this part! You definitely notice it in early spring when it shoots new foliage in blazing reds, or coral, or peachy pink (depending on variety). It is a harbinger of the coming spring season, screaming the news with hot colored foliage.

There are many varieties of Pieris japonica. Dwarfing types like ‘Cavatine’ only get about 18-24 inches tall and don’t tend to have as much foliage color. Standard types like ‘Forest Flame’ or ‘Valley Rose’ can get 6 or so feet tall. One of our favorites is ‘Flaming Silver’ with green and white variegated leaves and coral new growth