The Q&A Archives: Caring for Mountain Fire

Question: I bought a Mountain fire this spring. It has done very well through the summer. Now that it is fall, what should I do to prepare it for winter? Do I need to do any pruning or should I wait until spring?

Answer: Pieris japonica should be mulched in late fall with several inches of organic mulch, spread it in a flat layer over the root area and keep it an inch or two away from the stems or trunk. If it is in a windy location you may want to provide it with a wind break such as a burlap shield or a section of picket fence for example. Also check to make sure the soil is slightly moist until it freezes, water if necessary.

Do not prune it now.

This shrub needs very little pruning. The natural shape is fairly symmetrical all by itself. But, you can remove dead or damaged wood at any time it occurs. If you need to shape it or prune to control its size, do so in late spring right after it blooms. It blooms on old wood, so pruning now or in early spring would remove flower buds for next spring's flowers. IF you look carefully, you should be able to see the buds on the plant now -- they look a bit like strings of tiny pearls and will enlarge by spring.

Enjoy your Pieris -- this is a great low maintenance plant!

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