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Plant type: Broadleaf evergreen
USDA Zone: 4b to 7
If you can provide the right conditions for this dressy shade plant, you'll be getting four seasons of show. Bundled ribbons of small, creamy white bell-shaped flowers cascade over the rosettelike evergreen foliage in spring, and by midsummer the buds for next year's flowers form and remain through the winter. But the plant's showiest part might be its new foliage, which opens bronze to sizzling red, depending on the cultivar, then matures to a satiny dark green. Japanese pieris grows slowly to form a mound anywhere from nine to 12 feet tall and 2/3 as wide. Note: Toxic to goats and sheep.
Culture: Give Japanese pieris moist, well-drained, organic, preferably acid soil in a site sheltered from drying winds, and keep it well Prune after flowering. Provide winter protection in Zone 4b.
Pete Wallenborn shares some of his favorite plants in his sloped southeastern garden.