Elegant in foliage and form the year around, these plants make good companions for rhododendron and azalea, to which they are related. They have whorls of leathery, narrowly oval, glossy leaves in medium to dark green. Most plants form flower buds by autumn; these resemble strings of tiny beads in greenish pink, red, or white and provide a subtle decorative feature during winter. Clusters of small, urn-shaped, typically white flowers open from late winter to midspring. New spring growth is often brightly colored (pink to red or bronze). Splendid in containers, in wood- land and Japanese gardens, in entryways where year-round quality is essential. Deer resistant.
P. floribunda. MOUNTAIN PIERIS. Zone US; USDA 6. Native to southeastern U.S. Compact, rounded shrub to 6 ft. tall, 10 ft. wide. Differs from the other speciesnew growth is pale green, mature leaves dull dark green, 13 in. long. Blossoms in upright clusters. Cold hardy. Tolerates sun and low humidity better than the others but does not thrive in hot, humid regions.
P. japonica. JAPANESE ANDROMEDA, LILY-OF-THE-VALLEY SHRUB. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Upright, dense, tiered growth to 910 ft. high and wide. Leaves are 3 in. long, bronzy pink to red when new. Drooping clusters of white, pink, or nearly red flowers; flower buds are often dark red.
'Bert Chandler'. Salmon-pink new foliage ages to cream, then white, then matures to pale green. White flowers. Grows 5 ft. tall and wide.
'Cavatine'. To 23 ft. high and wide, with red new growth. Creamy white flowers. Choice dwarf form.
'Christmas Cheer'. Early bloomer with bicolor flowers in white and deep rose-red; flower stalks are rose-red. Grows to 5 ft. tall and wide.
'Compacta'. Grows 46 ft. high and wide. Heavy bloomer.
'Dorothy Wyckoff'. White flowers open from deep red buds. Grows to 5 ft. tall and wide.
'Grayswood'. Grows 45 ft. tall and wide. Abundant white flowers. Bronze-green new growth.
'Karenoma'. Compact grower to 36 ft. high and wide, with upright red flower clusters.
'Mountain Fire'. Fiery red new growth. White flowers. Grows 48 ft. tall.
'Prelude'. To 23 ft. high and wide; pink new growth. White blooms.
'Purity'. To 34 ft. high and wide. Late bloomer with unusually large white flowers.
'Pygmaea'. Tiny dwarf to 1 ft. high and wide, with very few flowers and narrow leaves to 1 in. long.
'Spring Snow'. Similar to 'Karenoma'.
'Temple Bells'. Compact, tiered habit; slow grower to 35 ft. high and wide. A bit less cold tolerant than the species. Ivory flowers.
'Valley Fire'. Brilliant red new growth. White flowers. Grows 610 ft. tall and wide.
'Valley Rose'. Light pink flowers. Grows to 35 ft. tall and wide.
'Valley Valentine'. To 57 ft. tall and wide. Deep red buds and flowers.
'Variegata'. Slow growing to 6 ft. high and wide. Creamy white leaf variegation; the white markings are tinged pink in spring. Prune out any green-leafed shoots. White flowers. Sun tolerant.
'White Cascade'. Extremely heavy show of pure white blooms. Grows 46 ft. tall and wide.
Same cultural requirements as rhododendron and azalea. Need acid, well-drained but moisture-retentive soil; do not thrive in hot, dry conditions. Choose a planting location sheltered from wind, where plants will get high shade or dappled sunlight at least during the warmest afternoon hours. Prune by removing spent flowers. Thin older specimens by taking out whole branches; or limb them up to reveal attractive, peeling bark.