Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’

Rounder than some of the Pieris with dark red new growth in spring.

All the Pierises create a shapely, layered, lumpy-bumpy profile in time. It might take 15 years in some cases but it’s definitely worth the wait. Apart from this wonderful shape, you have prolific quantities of white hanging bell shaped flowers, gorgeous new red growth and beautiful stringy bark on older plants. Some of the shapely little Pieris trees found in National Trust gardens planted by Victorians, are worth the entrance fee too.

Many plants from Japan (japonica is the clue) respond to a couple of mild days in February as : “It’s spring!”. If they were back home in Japan, it would be spring and therefore time to produce their lovely new leaves. Little do they know of the treacherous climate of Perfidious Albion. The problem is as follows : new growth emerges because it’s warmed up a bit in March. The wind comes round to the north, we get a severe frost in April and all the lovely new growth goes black overnight. If you’re near the coast or in a heavily built up area, the plant will remain unaffected but frosted new growth in cold rural gardens is a fact of life. It’s a minor setback but the plant will recover and by June all will be well and the trauma of late frosts, a distant memory.

They like good organic acid soil and a bit of shade and they’re slow growing – 5ft after 10 years maybe. If you see Pieris that looks more like a small tree in a National Trust garden, remember it was probably planted in 1860.

Propagated by cuttings.

Features Hardiness rating
IF IT HAS A GREEN TRAFFIC LIGHT

Hardy anywhere in Britain below approximately 1000ft (300m)

This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we’re always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.

Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.

General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it’s better to ‘plant small’ is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some ‘wood’ on them to survive severe cold – so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.

Flowers, Japanese, Pots, Shade, Shrubs, Soil – Clay, Soil – Dry/Well drained, Soil – NOT good on chalk

Mountain Fire Japanese Pieris in spring

Mountain Fire Japanese Pieris in spring

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Mountain Fire Japanese Pieris flowers

Mountain Fire Japanese Pieris flowers

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Mountain Fire Japanese Pieris

Mountain Fire Japanese Pieris

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 11 feet

Spread: 7 feet

Sunlight:

Hardiness Zone: 5a

Other Names: Japanese Andromeda

Description:

A popular ornamental broadleaf evergreen shrub with delicate and showy chains of small white bell-shaped flowers and fiery red emerging foliage, extremely colorful in spring; performs best in moist, organic and acidic soils

Ornamental Features

Mountain Fire Japanese Pieris features dainty chains of white bell-shaped flowers hanging below the branches in early spring. It has attractive red foliage. The glossy narrow leaves are highly ornamental and remain red throughout the winter. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Mountain Fire Japanese Pieris is a dense multi-stemmed evergreen shrub with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its average texture blends into the landscape, but can be balanced by one or two finer or coarser trees or shrubs for an effective composition.

This shrub will require occasional maintenance and upkeep, and is best pruned in late winter once the threat of extreme cold has passed. Deer don’t particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Mountain Fire Japanese Pieris is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • Hedges/Screening
  • General Garden Use

Planting & Growing

Mountain Fire Japanese Pieris will grow to be about 11 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 7 feet. It tends to be a little leggy, with a typical clearance of 1 foot from the ground, and is suitable for planting under power lines. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for 40 years or more.

This shrub does best in full sun to partial shade. It requires an evenly moist well-drained soil for optimal growth, but will die in standing water. It is very fussy about its soil conditions and must have rich, acidic soils to ensure success, and is subject to chlorosis (yellowing) of the leaves in alkaline soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution, and will benefit from being planted in a relatively sheltered location. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in winter to protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets.

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