The Flaming Silver Pieris is a rounded evergreen shrub that forms a small bush that will in time grow to 3 to 5 feet tall and wide. It has bright variegated foliage of mid-green edged with a border of pure white. The new spring growth is bright red, creating a stunning contrast against the white leaves – like flames on silver. Pendulous clusters of bell-shaped white flowers open a little before, or with, the red shoots, adding yet another dimension of beauty. This desirable shrub can be grown in shade gardens and wooded areas, or in planters and pots.
- Beautiful white-variegated foliage
- Striking bright red spring growth
- White fragrant hanging blossoms
- Excellent choice for shade gardens
- Grows best in acidic soils
Partial shade, with morning sun and afternoon shade, is ideal for the Flaming Silver Pieris, especially in warmer zones. It will also grow in light dappled shade beneath deciduous trees. The soil should be moist, well-drained and acidic, although this plant is less demanding for soil acidity than most other acid-loving plants. Once it has suitable light and soil conditions this is a relatively easy plant to grow, and it is usually free of pests or diseases.
Most flowering shrubs are grown, of course, for their flowers. But some do ‘double duty’ and have beautiful foliage as well. This makes them outstandingly valuable in the garden because they deliver so much from just one plant. In shade gardens in particular, lighter colors on the leaves help to create a brighter atmosphere, which is why we love the Flaming Silver Pieris so much. The elegant evergreen shrub delivers not one, but two punches of color. The mature leaves are boldly edged in silvery white, making this bush sparkle and glow all year round. Then in spring the new leaves astound us by opening a rich glowing red, holding that color for several weeks before turning pink and then green. It almost seems that the hanging clusters of white, bell-shaped blooms are an extra, but they certainly add even more to the value of this plant. Especially in smaller gardens plants need to earn their place, and this one does enough work to be welcomed for life.
Growing the Flaming Silver Pieris
Size and Appearance
The Flaming Silver Pieris is an evergreen shrub that grows steadily into a rounded, multi-stem bush 2 feet tall and wide, and ultimately could reach 3 to 5 feet tall, and at least that wide. It has several stems from the base, and it stays leafy to the ground for many years. Older plants may reveal their attractive, rugged basal branches, which are covered in a peeling reddish-brown bark. The oval leaves are smooth, glossy and leathery, about 2 inches long and ½ inch wide. They are mid-green, and around the edge is a broad, slightly irregular, band of pure white. This creates a very attractive and bright look. New growth in spring comes from the ends of the branches, as several tufts of leaves. When newly sprouted the stems and leaves are bright rosy-red, and they hold this color for several weeks, before gradually fading through pink into light green and maturing to their variegated form.
In late fall you will be able to see minute clusters of flowers at the tips of the branches, and these slowly mature, so that by late winter or early spring, depending on your growing zone and local weather, the blooms begin to open. These are a cluster of slender threads, 4 inches of more long, with white hanging bell-shaped flowers all along them. These charming flowers are sweetly fragrant, and they look a lot like lily-of-the-valley. This variety is not a profuse bloomer, so grow it beside one of our other varieties of Pieris, to make sure you get plenty of the beautiful blooms to admire. Its bold variegation and red shoots certainly earns it a prominent place in any shade garden.
Using the Flaming Silver Pieris in Your Garden
This shrub is ideal to brighten partially-shaded beds in your garden, and its variegated leaves bring valuable lightness among dark-leaved shrubs and evergreens. Grow it among your foundation planting, in your shady beds, and in woodland garden settings with rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias. It also makes a beautiful container plant in warmer zones, especially if you don’t have acidic soil.
The Flaming Silver Pieris is hardy from zone 5 to zone 8. It grows best in zones that are not too bleak and cold in winter, and not too hot and dry in summer, with regular summer rainfall. Grow in a sheltered spot in zone 5.
Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions
Partial shade, especially in the afternoon, but with morning sun, is the ideal location for your Flaming Silver Pieris. It also grows well in light dappled shade beneath deciduous trees, but not so well in the deep shade under evergreens. It grows in acidic, well-drained soils, ideally with a pH value below 6.5. If you can grow rhododendrons and azaleas, you can grow Pieris. In fact, even if you can’t, if your soil is neutral you can grow it, with the help of good soil preparation and mulch, because it is less demanding for acid conditions than most other acid-loving plants.
Maintenance and Pruning
Prepare your planting area by digging in plenty of rich, lime-free compost, or rotted leaves, peat-moss or rotted pine needles. Use more for mulch, but don’t mound up around the stem or bury the leaves. Feed in spring with fertilizer for acid-loving evergreens, and if your pH is more than 6.5, use chelated iron in spring and fall. No pruning is needed, and if you have good soil and light conditions this plant is not hard to grow at all. Water twice a week for the first growing season, and after that keep the ground moist, but don’t over-water. It normally has no pests or diseases, and it needs no pruning or special care. Remove the flower stems once blooming is over.
In zones 7 and 8 you can grow the Flaming Silver Pieris in a planter or pot. Use compost for acid-loving plants, and feed regularly with liquid fertilizer for azaleas. Water whenever the top ½ inch is dry, make sure you have drainage holes and don’t leave the pot standing in a saucer of water.