Andromeda, also known as Lily of the Valley shrub and Pieris, is one of the loveliest of the broadleaf evergreen shrubs. A relative of the rhododendron family, it boasts an attractive habit, fine foliage and lovely spring flowers. It is becoming increasingly popular for ornamental use in the North because it is attractive in the winter too. Japanese andromeda (Pieris japonica) is one of the most commonly planted types, a number of interesting varieties having been recently developed, all eminently suitable for residential planting.
Size: Typically a Japanese andromeda reaches 9 to 12 feet tall at maturity. A slow grower, it may take years to achieve this size. Its maximum width will be between 6 to 8 feet. Dwarf versions grow to only 2 or 3 feet.
Foliage: Its foliage is one of andromeda's greatest assets. Individual leaves are 1 1/4 to 3 1/2 inches long. They are broad and lance-shaped with slightly toothed edges. In the spring they emerge in clusters at the end of the shrub stems. At first they have a striking reddish or bronze tinge. As the season progresses their color changes to a glossy medium green. They are evergreen, remaining on the shrub throughout the winter.
Flowers: Andromeda flowers may be white or pinkish and they hang in pendulous clusters from 3 to 6 inches long. The individual blossoms resemble elongated waxy bells. Their buds are formed the previous summer and their deep red color offers ornamental winter interest. Depending on the variety, some Japanese andromedas bloom as early as February and last well into April or even longer. Many are slightly fragrant. Flowers eventually give way to insignificant dried capsules.
Basic Andromeda Requirements – (See Caring for Adromeda for more details)
Zones 4 – 8
Light -Likes FULL SUN or PART SHADE
Soil - Average soil, likes acidic soils, humus rich, moist, well drained
Deer unfortunately love this plant (see Andromeda Problems)
There are many Japanese andromeda varieties newly developed for sale in nurseries.
Early bloomers: `Dorothy Wycoff' has very glossy leaves that turn a reddish green in winter and pink flowers. `Valley Valentine' is compact, blooms so early that its pink and white flowers have been on display in a snowbank. `Shojo' is dwarf with half-sized clusters of pink flowers.
Later bloomers: `Compacta' has leaves 1/2 the normal size and grows to only 6 feet tall. `Crispa' boasts very glossy dark green foliage. `Flamingo' has deep red flowers. `Mountain Fire' has bright red new leaves, less showy flowers, takes more sun and is more vigorous than most. `Whitecaps' has long-lasting, pure white flowers `White Cascade' has longest and largest white flower clusters and most upright, regular mounded form. `Variegata' has leaves with white edges and is a slow grower.