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Last updated on January 21st, 2020
Pieris Forest flame is a very strong shrub that is able to survive throughout cold winter temperatures making it perfect for gardens throughout the Uk. More than that come springtime it affects a delightful display of new fresh red growth and stunning masses of white bell-shaped flowers with a collection of colours that make it truly one of a kind.
How to grow Pieris ‘Forest Flame’
Plant in dappled shade
If you are planning to grow the Pieris ‘Forest Flame’ you need to make sure that you how proper lighting, watering, and planting requirements. In terms of sunlight, this plant normally lives in forested mountains so it needs dappled shade but will also grow in the shade where many other shrubs simply want thrive. Too much exposure to strong sunlight can not only damage the new growth but turn the leaves yellow. Strong sunlight exposure will also prevent flowering and reduce the strength of the different colours. For this reason, you absolutely want to pick an area with dappled shade.
Remove faded flowers to promote more growth
In terms of maintenance, you can deadhead by removing the faded flowers so that your plant is able to put energy into new, fresh growth rather than the seed heads. Like your body, your plants have a limited amount of energy and that energy will be allocated to the next step in the process of development. If you don’t deadhead, much-needed energy will go toward making those seed heads and unless you are going to save the seeds, it is better for your plants to put that energy into developing newer, fresher growth.
Plant in acidic soil or ericaceous compost and mulch
In order to keep the soil acidic, conserve moisture, and prevent weeds from growing you should mulch with compost at least 45cm away from the base of the plant but around the entire perimeter of the plant. Adding fertilizer regularly will also help balance out any nutrient deficiencies that might be in your soil especially as the plant gets older.
Planting pieris plants
Plant in acidic soil or ericaceous compost if grown in pots
When you think about planting you need to make sure first and foremost that you have the right soil. This plant requires acidic soil and will grow very poorly in any other soil type. If you have highly alkaline soil, something you can test with an at-home soil kit, you will need to consider growing it in a pot or container with acidic compost which is sold at garden centres as ericaceous compost. If you have a neutral soil you can increase the acidity by mulching annually and digging in some acidic compost but this is something you will have to do every single year to keep the soil pH levels at the appropriate amount.
When you are ready, you should dig a hole that is as deep as the container or pot in which your plant arrived. Place the plant inside the hole and fill in the remaining area with ericaceous compost and soil mixture. Then keep it well water until it has established itself and is starting to prevent with new growth. Never plant deeper than the pot. If you are planting into a pot use a soil-based ericaceous compost such as John Innes ericaceous compost.
Planting pieris in containers
There are dwarf, compact varieties of this plant that do very well in containers although most can be grown successfully in pots. If you are going to grow in containers or pots you should choose one that is slightly bigger than the pot in which your plant originally arrived. In order to help encourage drainage and prevent the drainage holes from getting blocked, you can add pieces of broken terracotta or stone into the container and add liquid fertiliser every spring. Plants that are grown in pots are susceptible to drying out so you might have to water them slightly more so than you would water a plant grown in the ground.
If you have cultivated your Forest flame in a container you will need to repot it every few years as it gets bigger. Again, just pick a container that is slightly larger than the root ball of the plant you have currently and then grow it with fresh compost.
Propagating pieris from cutting and seed
Propagating from seed
When it comes to propagating, there are two methods available to you. The first is propagating with seed. To do this well you want to collect the seed in the springtime. You should tell each of the seeds for viability by soaking them in water for at least 24 hours. Do not use any seeds that float to the top.
- Taking the remaining seeds, fill each pot to approximately 4 centimetres from the top and pat the mixture down, and put one seed in every pot.
- The seeds should be placed directly on top of the soil with a thin layer of compost scattered on top so that light is able to penetrate.
- You should mist with water and then cover it with some form of plastic bag or plastic container.
- Place all of your pots in an unheated greenhouse sheltered from any direct sunlight or simular suitable place.
- If they become dry you should mist them but be careful not to overwater them.
- Within approximately one month you should have seedling with several sets of leaves in which case you can move your plants to containers for growing on.
The other option for propagation is to propagate from softwood cuttings. This is something you should also do in the springtime directly after flowering. It is best to water the plant very well a few days prior to taking your cutting.
- Prepare pots with a mixture of 1/2 compost and 1/2 perlite.
- Select stems approximately 15cm in length from the top of a healthy branch. You want stems that are flexible and have young leaves on them but don’t have any flowers. Using a sharp set of clean pruning shears or a knife, cut them off at a 45-degree angle.
- Remove the leaves from the lower part leaving one set on top and dip the other end of the cutting into rooting hormone powder to help establish roots effectively.
- Place each cutting directly in the centre of the pot and firmly packed the soil around them.
- Mist each plant and cover them securely with plastic in the form of a plastic bag or plastic lid, so long as the plastic does not touch the leaves directly.
- Place the cuttings in an unheated greenhouse shelter from direct sun.
- In approximately 8 or 10 weeks you will notice new growth taking place, you might even see the roots coming out of the bottom drainage holes in which case you can remove your plants and repot them elsewhere.
Feeding and water
When you first plant you will need to regularly water your plant until it establishes itself. Like many plants, once it becomes established you will only have to water during dry spells in the weather, particularly in the summer months. This plant like many others does not enjoy being waterlogged so you never want it to sit for a prolonged amount of time in water.
In terms of feeding the importance of acidic soil has already been covered and to that end, if you have naturally neutral soil and are using the well-rotted pine needles to help compensate for the pH levels, you can give a dose of fertiliser for acid-loving plants in the springtime as well. If you already have acidic soil so you aren’t compensating, you should consider adding well-rotted pine needles as part of the mulch on an annual basis anyway because it really does help to give nutrient value to your plants. If at any time you notice the leaves are turning yellow it is typically a sign of nutrient deficiency at which point you can add another dose of acid or ericaceous fertiliser.
Pieris do not require a great deal of pruning. It is a very slow-growing so at most, you should deadhead and remove any dead or broken branches. If you are going to prune to improve the shape or maintain a specific size, you should do it immediately after flowering. If you don’t and you prune too late, you may not get flowers the following season.
If you choose to prune for size or shape and you do it during the summer or autumn, rest assured it won’t harm the plant but you simply won’t get as many flowers. In a few years, the flowers will come back just as strong. If you want to encourage newer developments, newer growth, you can always cut back some of your longer branches in half to encourage a second flush of growth but this as well will sacrifice the flowers you get on those branches the following spring. If you can, always remember to prune after flowering straight away.