Lily of the Valley

There are 2 groups of plants that are commonly called Lily of the Valley – Pieris and Convallaria.

This is the true Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majus). It is a deciduous perennial/ground cover that blooms in April and early May. It is very fragrant.

This planting was made 12 years ago with 3 1 gal. Plants so you can see that it is a fairly vigorous spreader.

Lily of the Valley fruit

Fall color of Lily of the Valley.

The Lily of the Valley Shrub (Pieris japonica) was named after Convallaria because the flowers are very similar to it.

Pieris japonica ‘Snow Drift’
This is typical of many of the Lily of the Valley Shrub varieties. It has drooping clusters of white bells that bloom in March and April. The flower buds develop through the winter and are ornamental also.

Variegated Lily of the Valley Shrub
(Pieris japonica ‘Variegata’)
The leaves are variegated with white and sometimes pink edges. This variety is slower growing than the standard Pieris japonica and usually smaller – about 3’ – 4’.

Pieris japonica ‘Little Heath’
This is a variegated leaf variety that is more compact and has smaller leaves.

Pieris japonica ‘Flaming Silver’ has variegated leaves, pink buds, white flowers and beautiful red to bronze new growth.

Here are a few more white flowered varieties:

Pieris japonica ‘Temple Bells’

Pieris japonica ‘Cavatine’

Pieris japonica ‘Prelude’

Pieris taiwanensis ‘Snowdrift’

Pieris japonica ‘Karenoma’

Here are some red varieties:

Pieris japonica ‘Valley Valentine ‘

Pieris japonica ‘Shojo’

Pieris japonica ‘Valley Rose’

Pieris japonica ‘Interstella’

This is a dwarf variety called Pieris japonica ‘Pygmaea’ with much smaller leaves and flowers.

Pieris japonica ‘Brookside Miniature’

Here is another dwarf called Pieris ‘Tiki’

Pieris ‘Impish Elf’

Here is a variety with bronze to red new growth:

Pieris japonica ‘Valley Fire’

Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’

At Dawn Gardens 15 varieties of Pieris are planted on a steep slope above a drainage ditch. They each have 2 emitters and are watered 3 times per week. They don’t mind the heat of Grass Valley and they are reliably deer tolerant. This is a North facing slope so they are in part shade. Pieris are in the Ericaceae family so they are related to Azaleas and Rhododendrons.

Here is the same planting after mulching with shredded cedar. The mulch conserves water, inhibits weeds and improves the soil.

Several Lily of the Valley shrubs in front of the 100 year old arbor.

Pieris formosa forrestii gets larger than Pieris japonica. This one is nearly 18’ tall. The common Pieris japonica varieties get 6-10’ tall. ‘Cavatine’ and ‘Prelude’ and others stay below 4’.

The only maintenance performed on Pieris at Dawn Gardens is the annual deadheading of the flowers that bloomed during the spring so they don’t make the brown seed capsules in late summer. This plant was deadheaded on the left side so you can see the seed capsules on the right.

Pieris japonica in its native habitat near Mt. Fuji in Japan.

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