Azalea

Blooming Azalea Plants

What is Azalea?

Azalea is a flowering shrub of the Ericaceae family and Rhododendron species. Whereas Rhododendrons are evergreen, Azalea are deciduous plants. Rhododendrons flowers take the shape of bells whereas Azalea flowers are fragrant, two-lipped and resemble funnels.

Unlike rhododendrons with at least 10 stamens, Azalea flowers feature just 5 stamens protruding in the middle of the petals. However, it's possible to find flowers with a variation of the two. Cultivated Azalea varieties were propagated from native North America species and those from hilly Asian regions.

The sweet, smooth Azalea (R. arborescens) that grows 3 to 6 meters in height is native to North America. The pinxter flower (R. periclymenoides) and the flame Azalea (R. calendulaceum) are also native to North America.

The pinxter flower has whitish, pink flower petals and grows in height up to 2 meters high. The flame azalea is a shrub that grows up to 2 meters high. The molle azalea, (R. molle), the torch azalea (R. Kaempferi), the Ghent azalea (R. gandavense) and the Yodogawa azalea (R. yedoense) have been propagated to develop hundreds of azalea plant types.

Commonly referred to as the 'Royalty of the Garden', azalea plants bloom in such a way that they inspire music composers, poets, artists and even painters. Different azalea plant species bloom into luscious peach, jubilant and brilliant pink and velvety lavender colors for breathtaking views and sweet aromatic scents.

Cultivation

Azaleas are shade-resistant and thus grow well under trees. Proper care of azalea plants and the right location for planting are key to keeping them healthy. Mass planting is often done on wooded locations. However, planting azaleas individually give the most beautiful results.

Beautiful Azalea Flowers

Beautiful Rhododendron Azalea Flowers

Kurt Stüber [1], Rhododendron yakushimanum makinoi0, CC BY-SA 3.0

They are often planted in areas with acid-loving plants and conifers such as pines due to the shrubs' large flower coverage on almost the entire plant. This helps reduce the effect of their weight, in addition to off-setting their colors.

Spring is the best time to plant azaleas in cool locations with light shades. Heavy shades and hot climates can reduce the amount of oxygen accessible to the plants and burn their leaves, respectively. As a result, the plants experience reduced growth and poor blooming.

Soil

Azaleas do well in well-drained, acidic soils due to their shallow rooting systems. They can also be grown in pots for indoor or outdoor gardens or even in raised planting beds. Organic matter from compost manure is often used in azalea gardens to add nutrients required by the plants.

Mulching with composted pine barks or straws helps suppress weeds, control soil temperature to the right level and retain water in soil. Fertilizer is used in nutrient deficient soils to promote the growth of large, green leaves and azaleas general plant growth. Application is done either in late spring or at the beginning of fall.

Pests and Diseases

Spider mites and lace bugs are the most common azaleas pests. Diseases include leaf spots, petal blights and root rot. Planting azaleas in well-drained soils and using mulch to improve water retention in soil can help prevent occurrence of pests and diseases.

Azaleas Care

Trimming azaleas is a critical part of their maintenance and care. It boosts plant growth for blooms year-in-year-out and gives the shrubs a beautiful appearance.

Azaleas Festivals

Azaleas festivals are held and celebrated in the United States, Japan, Hong Kong and Korea. They are colorful and fun.

 

Blooming Azalea Garden in Italy

Azalea Garden in Italy Blooms with Colorful Flowers

 

Why Grow Azalea/Azalea Benefits

Azaleas have a number of benefits, hence their popularity as houseplants or those planted outdoors in gardens. They are early bloomers and can help improve the quality of air indoors. The plants are colorful and can be trimmed into nice shapes and appearances for enhanced appeal of indoor or outdoor spaces.

Furthermore, consuming azaleas plants in small quantities is said to have health benefits; it helps with poison control. However, if taken in large amounts, the plant can be poisonous.

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