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Help me save this Pieris (well i think its a Pieris)!

Having recently moved into a new house we've been surveying the new garden to see what can be saved. We have what appears to be a very sickly Pieris (or maybe mexican orange blosson - happy to be corrected) in one area what was surrounded by couch grass and moss. 

The leaves on the Pieris appear to be suffering some sort of problem, being a yellow tinge and being horrendously black spotted. They also feel quite hard and crispy to the touch. At first glance it really does look a state and we thought it wasn't savable. However we noticed before pulling it out that there are some fresh buds forming along with some red flowers starting to sprout (this is what made me think Pieris) and that it might be worth trying to bring it back to life.

So far we have added some ericaceous compost and cleared away all moss as best we could. We're also watering it.

My question is. Do we need to remove the extremely sickly looking leaves or are they still serving some sort of purpose? If so how far back should we cut it?

Any thoughts would be most welcome. I'd rather give a go of saving this plant than putting something new in.

Many thanks!



  • DaintinessDaintiness Posts: 980

    You are doing the right thing but I would also feed it with a liquid acid loving plant feed often labelled as for Camellias and Rhododendrons. Not easy at the moment but if you have a water butt or when it rains (and it will) water with rain water which is acidic and better for the plant. The new growth is a good sign and the plant looks like it is well worth saving. I wouldn't cut back but wait until next spring and then cut out any dead wood only.

  • We don't have a waterbutt at the front of the house as its a terrace and no access to a downpipe. Obviously i'll bring some rain water to it once we get some rain (some time in august at this rate) 

    I'll get some liquid acid plant food. Many thanks for the tip!

  • I don't think this is a Pieris, looks more like a Skimmia to me. Pieris have white flowers and new leaves that start off red before turning green. Having said that Daintie's advice still holds good. Lots and and lots of water, even if you don't have rainwater at present. Leave the leaves, and let the plant decide whether they are serving any purpose. If not, they will fall off!!image

  • DaintinessDaintiness Posts: 980

    Woodie, The new growth is red...that's why LegionOfBrad and I think it is a pieris - look at the second picture he posted.  image

  • Lupin 1Lupin 1 Posts: 8,916

    Don't want to upset LoB, or give wrong advice. Not sure which it is, I tend towards Pieris, but brand new growth on all mine are green and following year new growth on that stem is red.

    It does have a look of Choisya ternata Sundance but red growth isn't correct.

    I'm not familiar with Skimma's new growth.

    I would cut it down to above new growth, feed with ? now that is the problem as we don't know what it is. Eric' or not?

    As I said at start dunt want to upset LOB but I don't fancy it's chances especially in this weather..hope it proves tough and grows 5 feet tall.image

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,309

    Whatever it is - and it looks more like the growth habit of Pieris - it's looking bad!

    I'd cut it to above the new growth, feed it and water it and see what happens. If you leave the sickly foliage a lot of the nourishment you give it will be wasted on that. If you can get it into a bit of shade or protect it from the worst of the sun that will help too. Give it to the end of the summer and it may come away. If not, just replace it. image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • DaintinessDaintiness Posts: 980

    Just found this informaton and wondered if this is what is wrong with your pieris - have a look at the undersides of the leaf as suggested, otherwise my advice remains the same.

  • addictaddict Posts: 659

    Definitely Pieris. Very sickly image  As fairygirl says needs shade asap. Cut to that red growth on that stem and if nothing growing on any other stems cut to the last leaf on the branch. Feed and water. Then cross your fingers and hope for the best. If new growth does start to appear then cut to that. Cut nothing after end of August or will be too soft for winter. Good luck image

  • pr1mr0sepr1mr0se Posts: 1,178

    I have all three of the mentioned shrubs in my garden, and if I had to money on it. I would nominate Pieris.  However, the photo is unclear for full ident. 

    Advice given is good - the ground around the base of the plant is bare and shows signs of cracking, presumably from the current heat/lack of moisture.  I would therefore also suggest a good soaking of the soil, feeding with an acid feed and  a gentle loosening of the top soil and then a good, thick mulch to preserve the moisture.  And I would ensure regular soaking of the shrub, daily for preference.

    I moved a mature Skimmia some years ago and soaked it daily for a few weeks.  It is now a superb shrub with no signs of having been so rudely up-rooted!


  • Hi Guys,

    I'll check for lacebug signs first thing tomorrow. The soil around it is cracked badly but its composted to about a foot diameter around it for now. I'll keep soaking it and will dig the soil around it more and soak it to.

    If I chose to move it how far down do they usually root? I have some large pots I can put it in to get some shade until I can get the tangled mess of the garden sorted.

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