There are plants that gardeners may know and love from other regions that just do not perform well in the heat, humidity, and soils of our area. One example is the Japanese pieris, an attractive evergreen shrub with showy white blooms in spring. This shrub has a few specific environmental requirements that make it unsuitable for most gardens along the Panhandle, including the need for rich organic soil that holds some moisture but is well drained.
For those of you who thought that a garden with Japanese pieris is only a dream, the nursery industry has now made your dream a reality. Part of the Southern Living plant collection is a more heat tolerant Japanese pieris called Mountain Snow™ that is showing promise. Site selection is still very important. Mountain Snow™ will grow best with summer shade and in beds that are amended with organic material. Water must be applied when rainfall is lacking and soil must be well drained.
Although those requirements can not be met in all landscapes, there are gardens like the Escambia County Demonstration Garden where a Mountain Snow™ plant will grow well. Our shrub is planted in an irrigated ornamental bed with organic mulch on top and receives summer shade from a deciduous tree. At two years old, it appears to be doing well in our area. If you have a garden spot with the conditions appropriate, consider trying this shrub for early season interest.