How to Grow: Japanese Andromeda

Pieris japonicaPieris, Andromeda, Fetterbush, Shrub


Other Name

lily of the valley plants, pieris


Sun Requirements

Part sun, part shade


Bloom Period and Seasonal Color

Spring with white flowers, with some red buds


Mature Height x Spread

4 to 8 feet x 3 to 6 feet


Added Benefits

attracts beneficials, deer resistant


Japanese andromeda is a broadleaf evergreen that is a staple in southern New England gardens. My mother’s house in Connecticut has one that’s over 40 years old and it’s still thriving. It’s generally hardy to zone 5, so isn’t appropriate for colder parts of our region. The beautiful young leaves often have a reddish glow. The leaves eventually turn dark green, with some varieties having variegated leaves. The necklaces of white or pink colored flowers bloom in spring. Japanese andromeda stays attractive all summer and adds some greenery to the landscape in winter. This slow growing shrub is similar to rhododendron in that it grows well in part shade and on acidic soils.


When, Where and How to Plant

Purchase plants at a local garden center and plant from spring to summer in a full sun to part shade location. Grow andromeda on well-drained, humus-rich, acidic soil. Grow andromeda plants spaced 3 to 8 feet apart, depending on the selection.


Growing Tips

Water new plants well. Mulch the base of plants well with bark mulch, pine needles or wood chips to keep the soil consistently moist and reduce weed competition. Fertilize in spring with an acid-based plant food similar to what you’d use for rhododendrons.


Regional Advice and Care

Japanese andromeda leaves and flower buds can dry out easily in winter and die due to cold winds. Protect plants by planting in a protected location and driving four stakes around plants and wrapping burlap around the stakes in late fall. Prune in spring to remove dead, diseased and broken branches and to shape the plant. Lacebugs can attack the foliage causing holes in the leaves especially during dry periods. Spray insecticidal soap or Neem oil to control this pest.


Companion Planting and Design

Grow andromeda in sun or partly shaded locations on acidic soil. It’s a good match with rhododendron, azalea, and fothergilla shrubs. Japanese andromeda is a formal plant in the landscape, so looks best planted against a foundation or in a mixed shrub border. Low growing, compact varieties fit well under windows and in small spaces. The evergreen leaves make a nice backdrop to lower growing flowering shrubs such as potentilla, cotoneaster, and dwarf spirea. Some Japanese andromeda varieties are popular as bonsai plants as well.


Try These

‘Mountain Fire’ is a very popular, newer variety that has bright orange-red new growth in spring with white flowers. ‘Valley Valentine’ is a popular pink flowered variety with deep red buds. It grows up to 8 feet tall.  ‘Dorothy Wycoff’ is a compact, yet vigorously growing variety, with pink flowers. The foliage can bronze in winter. ‘Pygmaea’ is a compact variety that only grows 2 feet tall. ‘Variegated’ features variegated white and green colored leaves and grows 6 feet tall.

Excerpted from my book, New England Getting Started Garden Guide.

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