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Valley Rose Pieris
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Just when you’ve had enough of winter, Valley Rose Andromeda comes to the rescue. With the first sweet breath of spring, it lifts you up with a cheery display. Long chains of intricate, soft pink flowers appear in profusion, obscuring the shiny evergreen foliage. They exude a splendid perfume that’s not only people-pleasing, but also attractive to early-emerging pollinators like our gentle native mason bees. Late spring brings another treat with new growth that comes out a bright bronzy red color. For shady spaces, few specimens are as satisfying as this four-season charmer.
Japanese Pieris is often called Andromeda, although few who use that name realize the rather gruesome story behind it. According to Greek myth, Andromeda was a beautiful princess who was chained to a rock as an offering to a sea monster. The “chains” of flowers on this plant represent her own chains. (We’re happy to report that Perseus rescued the fair maiden before any harm was done.) Pieris is native to Japan, Taiwan, and eastern China. Valley Rose originated in the Willamette Valley at the Oregon State University Research Station near Aurora. It was a standout in the trial beds there for its pretty flowers and fine, clean foliage.
Andromeda is in the same family as Rhododendrons, Azaleas, and Blueberries. This family of plants in general likes moist but well-drained, acid soils with lots of organic matter, and Valley Rose Andromeda is no exception. Many of these plants also like afternoon shade in hot climates, and it is in a bit of shade where this Andromeda shines its brightest. If Azaleas and Rhododendrons do well in your area, then Valley Rose may be a natural to invite into your landscape.
How to Grow
Not a plant for regions with extremes of heat and cold, Andromeda prefers the more moderate temperatures of its Japanese homeland and does best where those conditions can be replicated. Plant Valley Rose Andromeda in acidic, moisture-retentive but not boggy soil in a site protected from both intense afternoon sunlight and strong winds. Heavy clay soils that retain too much water invite a deadly root rot disease. On the other hand, drought can take its toll as well. Applying an organic mulch and providing a steady supply of water will help give Valley Rosewhat it needs to thrive.
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