Pieris are much underrated evergreen shrubs grown for their foliage and small, but profuse, urn-shaped flowers. Flower buds, often red in colour similar to those of Skimmia rubella, appear in winter or early spring and open to produce usually white, nodding, bell-like flowers later in the spring. Pieris leaves are small, lance shaped and dark green in colour when mature. However, it is the young foliage that catches the eye in late spring.
In some varieties such as Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ and P. ‘Mountain Fire it is a brilliant red, in others such as P. ‘Prelude’ and P. formosa the new leaves are pink or bronze and work really well in lifting a shady corner. The same is true of the Pieris with cream edged, variegated leaves such as P. ‘Little Heath’ and P. ‘Variegata’. Some Pieris can grow into large shrubs over 3-4m in height in the right conditions but others like Pieris ‘Little Heath’ and P. ‘Bonfire’ are small, compact shrubs ideal for pots or the front of borders.
Pieris are hardy plants which grow best in shade or partial shade. They require and acid soil with plenty of ericaceous compost added at planting time and then from time to time as a surface mulch in spring. The smaller varieties do well in pots, also using ericaceous compost.