How to Grow Pieris Japonica in the Southeast


Pieris japonica is commonly called Japanese Pieris, Japanese andromeda or lily-of-the-valley bush. It is an evergreen shrub that grows in the Southeast and is hardy in Zones 4 to 8. It is easy to care for and long lived. Pieris japonica is a slow growing shrub that is usually 3 to 5 feet tall and wide, but it can grow up to 9 feet tall. Bronze-colored new foliage matures to a glossy green in the summer and creamy white flowers bloom on 3 to 6 inch long clusters in March.

Step 1

Buy a Pieris japonica from a trustworthy local or online nursery. Keep the plant in a shaded area until you are ready to plant it.

Step 2

Plant Pieris japonica in the spring or fall in a partially shady to completely shady location with well-drained acid soil. Use a hoe and a rake to remove the weeds, grass and rocks from the selected area.

Step 3

Dig a hole with the shovel twice as wide as the pot the plant is in and about 6 inches deeper. Remove the plant from the pot and set it in the planting hole. Add some of the loosened soil to the bottom of the hole so the plant is at the same depth as it was in the pot.

Step 4

Push the soil back into the planting hole around the roots of the plant with your hand or your foot. Press the soil down firmly around the plant, but do not mound it up on the trunk. Evenly spread excess soil around the plant.

Step 5

Spread a layer of mulch 3 to 4 inches thick around the plant without mounding it up around the trunk. Water the plant thoroughly every other day for 3 to 4 weeks to allow the roots to get established. Reduce watering to 1 inch every week.

Step 6

Prune Pieris japonica immediately after it blooms and before it set seeds to improve flowering the following season. Remove dead, damaged, diseased and wayward limbs with hand pruners or lopping shears.

Step 7

Regularly check the plant for signs of diseases or pests. Prune out limbs affected by dieback or cankers. Apply pesticides or fungicide according to the manufacturer's directions to control pests or fungal diseases.

Tips and Warnings

  • The leaves and flower nectar of Pieris japonica are highly toxic to livestock and humans when eaten. Symptoms of poisoning caused by Pieris japonica are tingling, convulsions, watery eyes and nose, sweating, headache, abdominal pain and vomiting. Areas of the Southeast that are in zones 9 and 10 may be too hot for Pieris japonica to perform well. These areas include the lower peninsula of Florida and the coasts of Texas, Louisiana and Alabama.

Things You'll Need

  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Mulch
  • Hand pruners
  • Lopping shears
  • Pesticide
  • Fungicide


  • Auburn University: Pieris japonica
  • North Carolina State University: Poisonous Plants
  • University of Georgia: Pruning Ornamental Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • Floridata: Pieris japonica
  • Fine Gardening: Pieris japonica
  • North Carolina State University: Pieris japonica
Keywords: grow Pieris japonica, grow Japanese Pieris, Pieris in Southeast

About this Author

Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.