Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Featured Plant of the Day: 'Valley Rose' Japanese Andromeda

Pieris japonica 'Valley Rose'
    Japanese Pieris,  Japanese Andromeda,  Lily of the Valley Bush,  Lily of the Valley Shrub

Type    Shrub, woody plant
Hardy range    4B to 7A
Height    9' to 12' / 2.80m to 3.60m
Spread    6' to 10' / 1.80m to 3.00m
Growth rate    Slow
Form    Oval
Exposure    Partial shade or partial sun to full sun
Persistence    Evergreen

Bloom Color    Pink and white
Bloom Time    Spring

The flowers are very showy.

This plant tolerates some drought.
This plant will grow in dry soil.
Suitable soil is well-drained/loamy, sandy or clay.
The pH preference is an acidic to neutral (less than 6.8 to 7.2) soil.

Leaf Color    Green
Fall Color    No change in fall color

Landscape Uses
-    Woodland garden
-    Border
-    Screen
-    Massing
-    Specimen

Attributes and Features
-    Persistent fruit
-    Inconspicuous fruit

Culture Notes
Be sure to plant in a well-drained soil for root disease can infect plants in wet soil. Organic matter incorporated in the root zone can help plants look their best. Plants are best located in some shade for those in the sun are often infested with lacebugs. A vigilant spray program can allow plants to look good for a long time within its hardiness range. In order to preserve next years flower display, if you must prune, do it immediately after flowers fade. There are scores of cultivars selected for flowering time, color of flowers and foliage, size of plant, size of foliage, etc. This plant is considered mostly allergy free and causes little or no allergy problems in most people.

Planting and establishing shrubs
The most common cause of young plant failure is planting too deep.  Plant the root ball no deeper than it was in the nursery.  In most instances, the root flare zone (point where the top-most root in the root ball originates from the trunk) should be located just above the landscape soil surface. Sometimes plants come from the nursery with soil over the root flare. If there is soil over this area, scrape it off.  The planting hole should be at least twice the width of the root ball, preferably wider.  In all but exceptional circumstances where the soil is very poor, there is no need to incorporate anything into the backfill soil except the loosened soil that came out of the planting hole.  Never place ANY soil over the root ball. If a row or grouping of plants is to be installed, excavating or loosening the soil in the entire bed and incorporating organic matter enhances root growth and establishment rate.

Weed suppression during establishment is essential.  Apply a 3-inch thick layer of mulch around the plant to help control weed growth.  Keep it at least 10 inches from the trunk.  If you apply it over the root ball, apply only a one or two inch layer.   This allows rainwater and air to easily enter the root ball and keeps the trunk dry.  Placing mulch against the trunk or applying too thick a layer above the root ball can kill the plant by oxygen starvation, death of bark, stem and root diseases, prevention of hardening off for winter, vole and other rodent damage to the trunk, keeping soil too wet, or repelling water.  Regular irrigation through the first growing season after planting encourages rapid root growth, which is essential for quick plant establishment.