Pros: Rare evergreen shrub; beautiful red growth and bell-flowers; cold hardy
Cons: A bit picky with soil but perfect for acidic or neutral soils
We bought a new home last year in which the back yard landscaping had to be done by us. My husband left me in charge of design and bringing it to life. Amongst my choices of bushes was some of the Pieris family. There are several shrubs in the Pieris family, one of which is the Mountain Fire Shrub, also known as the Lily of the Valley.
What It Is
The Pieris Mountain Fire shrub came in a 1-gallon container. This is a beautiful evergreen shrub that is extremely cold hardy. The new growth leaves emerge as red, then turn bronze before turning into a shiny dark green. The fiery red leaves look like little flowers coming in. In spring, it bears densely packed bell-shaped, white flowers, which eventually become tiny hanging fruit.
The Pieris Mountain Fire shrub makes an excellent choice for those areas of your landscaping that has partial shade, all shade or not out in the sun all day. It thrives on humus-rich moist well-drained acidic soil. It can be proned to root rot so proper drainage is required. The more established bushes do not require a lot of water and should survive a drought. It is not a deciduous plant and maintains it leaves all winter.
The bush is slow growing and can grow up to 13' high with a spread of 9' with full maturity reached at 10-20 years. The bush is a compacted mound shape. This plant is best in zones 5-8.
Many gardeners use this shrub as a specimen plant because they are showy enough to dress up an entryway or become the focal point of a yard. The Mountain Fire Pieris also makes an attractive hedge plant and grows well with rhodies and camellia's.
The Pieris Mountain Fire makes a perfect shrub for the sides of our house that get partial sun. I have 6 Pieris shrubs planted in our landscaping choosing areas for that color spot needed and makes the perfect shrub for the areas of low sun. It is very hard to find a shrub other than a tree that stays evergreen all year round and this shrub maintains its leaves all winter. We planted ours early last summer and 2 of them have grown twice in size with the other 4 having slow growth. All of them survived the worst winter recorded since the 1940's where we live with deep snow and freezing temperatures. We are located in zone 5.
I would highly suggest that you plant this bush where it does not get full sun as I did transplant one that was getting too much sun, which it did not like. Since transplanting it, it has thrived with part sun and part shade producing a showier color of leaves and flowers.
The Mountain Fire Pieris is easy to maintain and has beautiful color with the new growth of the red leaves and the bellflowers lasting here in Washington from March to May.
For even showier flowers the next season you need to prune the flowers before it turns into the tiny fruit. Pieris blooms on the previous season's growth so you never want to prune it in the winter.
I highly recommend this shrub and I think you will be very happy with the different effects it gives throughout the year.