Name: Pieris japonica ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ aka Dorothy Wycoff Andromeda
Type of Plant: A shrub for shade and part shade that flowers in early spring. Native to Japan and Eastern China, hardy in USD Zones 5 to 8.
Why I Love/Hate this plant: I love Pieris japonica as long as it’s planted in the right location. This is a great plant for shade and part shade, but since most varieties grow 6 feet tall and wide (or larger) it’s not a shrub to plant in a foundation bed where you have to try in vein to control its size.
That said, I love the fragrant flowers in March and early April. I love ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ because this variety has pink flowers and dark green foliage. I like the fact that the deer don’t eat it and the branches with buds can be picked for use in arrangements and bouquets in December.
A Word to the Wise: Don’t plant this shrub in full sun. When Pieris are placed in sunny locations they are stressed, and this leads to a greater infestation of Andromeda lacebug, an insect this shrub is prone to.
If you see the leaves getting yellow with tiny, tiny dots, that’s a sign that you’ve got lacebug. Spray under the leaves with horticultural oil every month from spring (late April) through the summer.
The previous owner of my Cape house planted a large number of Pieris Japonicas along the driveway and in the landscape. I was surprised to hear that your shrubs have an odor. The pink blossoms on your shrubs are beautiful and there’s a great many of them. My shrubs along the driveway have now grown to be over five feet tall and have white blossoms and no odor. One of the other shrubs in the landscape is over nine feet tall. I have even discovered several “volunteers” growing in my woodland. The number of blossoms varies from year to year. This year there aren’t many blossoms. Would removing all of the brown, dried seedpods increase the number of new blossoms? I’d have to enlist the help of your garden gnome to get all of those off. This may be the only spring I have the time for such a job. Would fertilizing the shrubs make a difference?
These flowers are most fragrant on warm, sunny days…go out under yours this coming Monday and inhale…especially if it’s not windy. Mine Pieris flowers are pink because that is what Dorothy Wykoff does – other varieties are white or other shades of pink. The number of flowers can vary because of nutrition in the soil, watering during the summer (flowers are formed the summer before), pH of soil, and amount of light each plant gets. Often two or more of those will affect flowering for the following year. So if you want to increase flowering, I’d apply a light application of Holly-tone, then an inch of composted manure all around the plants under the drip line. (In other words, not just by the trunk. the roots extend beyond the outer edges of the plant.) Then in the summer if we’ve gone for two or more weeks without rain, especially in July and August, water deeply using a sprinkler. Hand watering is never enough. Large Pieris are best thought of as small trees.
I need a large container plant for a city location. Would a pieris japonica be able to live through a Boston winter in a container?
Susan – maybe. The general rule of thumb is that a plant in a container needs to be hardy two zones colder than where you are. This is because containers get about 20 degrees colder than ground temperature. Pieris is hardy in a zone 5 and Boston is considered a cold zone 7. If you container is huge, that will help. If it’s protected from cold wind etc, that would help too. But any of the evergreens that are hardy to zone 4 would be a better bet.
Just purchase this plant. I loved how unique it is. Is there a chance that we can trim this plant so it doesn’t grow over 6 ft. Tall.
Since pruning ALWAYS stimulates new growth, it’s folly to think that you can control size by cutting. So in general, no. But if you want to try, at least for awhile, prune it immediately after it flowers WAY BEFORE it gets to be 4 or 5 feet tall. The worst thing you can do is to let it grow without pruning and once it’s over 5 feet try and make it smaller.