Pieris genus covers 7 different species of shrubs within the Ericaceae family of flowing plants. These plants are most prominently found in mountainous areas in Asia, North America as well as Cuba. Growing between 1-6 meters in height, these trees are quite small which is one factor that benefits their growth as bonsai.
Pieris are prominently ornamental plants that are very beautiful. With most species growing beautiful red leaves and bell-shaped flowers, they are very pretty to look at. Flowers can be found in a variety of shades ranging from white to pink and commonly are between 5 and 15 millimeters in length. Also, the leaves mostly grow in spirals and have a dense and colorful appearance.
Pieris trees are becoming more popular by the day when it comes to bonsai. Because of their lovely flowers, many bonsai growers are gradually developing these trees.
This guide was created to assist bonsai enthusiasts in learning more about Pieris Bonsai Tree care.
How long does it take to grow Pieris Bonsai?
Pieris bonsai grow at a decent pace and it is mostly dependent on which species you are growing. While some may grow faster than others, a safe estimate for full growth is around 10 years. This is the time it will take for your bonsai to grow from a seed to being mature enough for cutting.
That being said, let’s go into some specifics about how to plant, care for, and grow your own Pieris bonsai. Here are some pointers to assist you in caring for your tree.
Position and lighting
Pieris bonsai should be kept in direct and full sun conditions as much as possible. These trees thrive in hotter climates and grow best in sunlight. While spring and summer are manageable, once temperatures start to fall in winter, it is advisable to keep the bonsai indoors. Specifically, once the temperature falls below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.44 °C), leaving your bonsai outside can lead to damage.
For optimal growth, Pieris bonsai should be shielded from colder winter conditions during its early years. When they are between hardiness zones 5 and 9, they are quite hardy. On the other hand, these bonsai deal with hotter temperatures well and can easily withstand temperatures up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 35 degrees Celsius) without issue.
Pieris bonsai should ideally be kept in soil that is rich with organic matter and slightly acidic. If you can’t find acidic soil, you can use a mixture of compost and certain fertilizers.
Ideally, you should water the Pieris bonsai in moderation. Watering should be done whenever the soil starts to dry up noticeably so that it is always moist. Watering your bonsai less can lead to the leaves drying up while over watering can cause the roots to rot. Also, be sure to have proper drainage in your pot to make sure water can pass through freely.
In terms of feeding, Pieris bonsai should be fed cakes or 20-20-20 fertilizer. This will benefit their overall growth and provide the nutrients needed for optimal health. Also, if it seems necessary, you can also add miracid to maintain soil acidity.
It is advisable to grow Pieris bonsai in upright informal forms which is how they are most commonly styled. Also, sometimes cascades in various sizes can also look good depending on the species you are growing.
How to Plant and Grow Pieris Bonsai
You’re curious about the planting and growing of Pieris bonsai. Awesome! However, you must first learn the Pieris species that are readily available and those that are typically suggested for bonsai.
- Pieris japonica “andromeda japonica” – This species of Pieris is characterized by its shrub-like growth and drooping flower clusters. It grows up to ten feet in height with the flowers and leaves growing to five inches and three inches respectively. While it is quite small, this species can withstand hot temperatures quite well but is not as hardy in winter weather.
- Pieris formosa – Known for its immense beauty, this species of Pieris is commonly grown as bonsai. Growing up to 13 feet (3.96 m), it has beautiful white flowers that grow on red shoots alongside open red leaves.
- Pieris floribunda – The floribunda is native to North America and is an evergreen shrub. It has leathery flowers and grows white urn chapped flowers which are quite unique and eye-catching. Also, it is much better than other species in colder climates. That being said, this species is not as common for being grown as bonsai as it is quite toxic.
However, each species has its unique characteristics, and none of them can be regarded to be better or worse than the others. Let’s get into the specifics of planting and growing your own Pieris bonsai.
Air layering, as well as cuttings, can be used as methods for Pieris bonsai propagation. The best time for this is usually during early-mid summer for optimal growth.
Pruning and wiring
While Pieris is not one of the largest trees when it comes to overall size, pruning is still quite important for growing them as bonsai. Most importantly, you should clip off and trim newer shoots during the bonsais earlier years. This can be done in most sizes as well as styles. Apart from this, as Pieris bonsai has a longer flowering time, you can also prune and pinch them during this period to remove fading flowers and branches.
Pieris bonsai can be wired, however, this frequently diminishes the tree’s vigour and strength. So, if you’re going to wire your tree, don’t leave it up for longer than three months.
Repotting should be performed on your bonsai regularly to make sure that it remains small and also has a tight root structure. This is also true with the Pieris bonsai which should be repotted once every 2-4 years. The exact time is dependent on the species you are growing as all of them have different growth speeds. That being said, a good way to find out when to repot is by looking at the roots. So, whenever the roots begin outgrowing your pot, you should repot your bonsai.
For repotting the Pieries bonsai, you should first remove the plant from its pot with all the surrounding soil. After this, cut off about 1/4th of the roots from all sides and the bottom. Once you are satisfied with the root structure, place the bonsai back into its original, or a new pot. This should be done during early spring for Pieris bonsai and a lime-free soil mix should be used to fill up empty space left by the cut roots. Also, post repotting, regular watering is important.
How to Care for Your Pieris Bonsai
Pieris bonsai should be protected from colder weather during their early years to ensure their health. They are, however, excellent between hardiness zones 5 and 9. Also recommended is somewhat acidic soil as basic soil can lead to adverse effects on bonsai growth.
Pieris bonsai benefit immensely from sunlight and should be kept in full-sun conditions as long as possible. Considering that they are great with heat, keeping these bonsai out throughout spring and summer is the best option. However, colder temperatures can lead to damage due to which it is advisable to bring your bonsai inside once temperatures are below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 7 °C).
During the summer, they should be watered often so that the leaves and soil don’t dry out. As for repotting, Pieris bonsai can be repotted every 2-3 years, with smaller pots being gradually introduced for acclimatization.
Pests are a common concern with all kinds of bonsai, and while it isn’t as bad with Pieris bonsai, you’ll still have to keep an eye out for some insects. The following are some of the most common pests that could harm Pieris bonsai –
Aphids, which establish colonies at the lowest branches of these bonsai, are particularly noticeable. However, by spraying the foundation with water, these can be quickly remedied. However, to avoid other pests, keep your tree healthy and fertilize the soil on a regular basis. Also, inspect the tree thoroughly every few weeks in hard-to-see locations to discover and catch any pests before they cause major damage.
Pieris bonsai is quite hardy against disease and sickness as long as they are properly cared for. However, they aren’t invincible, and there are a few diseases to be aware of. –
- Fungi – Fungi are known to create leaf spots, but they are usually controllable. To avoid fungal diseases, it is important to keep your bonsai in an area with good air circulation. While the best areas would be out in the open, well ventilated indoor areas can also work well.
- Chlorosis – Chlorosis is a condition in which the leaves of a plant start to turn yellow. It is caused due to a lack of chlorophyll and can impact the appeal of a bonsai immensely. For this, make sure you are providing the bonsai with sufficient nutrients, water, and also good drainage.