azaleas

Azaleas are real eye-catchers in dreary winter. With good care, the colorful flowering plant can live up to 30 years. When it comes to care, the azalea likes it shady and moist.

If you place them in a cool, not too sunny place, you will benefit from the flowers longer.

But the azalea can also stand in a warm living room – just move it to a cool, but frost-free place at night. Watering is important: the soil in the pot is ideally always moist. But the root must not be in the water.

When you decide to grow Azaleas plant in the home, the best side to do that can be easily located.

It’s best to grow Azaleas in the east and north sides of the house where there’s partial sun or cool shady trees. Avoid the west and south sides of your building because they usually receive direct sunlight, which Azaleas don’t tolerate. This plant require largely loose soil free of lime. Azaleas like very humus-rich garden soil with a pH value of 4 – 5.5. The floor should be cool.

In this article, we would find out how to grow beautiful Azaleas in our homes.

Origin

The azaleas, with the old scientific name “Azalea”, are actually an old genus of plants that has meanwhile been systematically incorporated into the rhododendrons.

The term azalea is still often used in German today. The azalea is the only ornamental plant that has made a career in the home and in the garden, although garden and indoor azaleas have very different origins.

Indoor azaleas are mainly varieties of Indian azaleas (Rhododendron-Simsii hybrids), which are also known as pot azaleas. In the middle of the 19th century, they were introduced into Europe via the East India Company, although they are actually mainly at home in China.

The garden azaleas or free-range azaleas include above all rhododendron species which, in contrast to the evergreen rhododendron representatives, are more or less deciduous, i.e. lose their leaves in winter or in the course of winter. A distinction is made between two large groups:

●   Deciduous azaleas, which, depending on their origin, are subdivided either locally or based on an ancestral species.

●   Japanese azaleas have their origins in species originating in Japan, and they were then used for further breeding in Europe. In Central Europe, they are mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen. 

Appearance and stature

Azaleas grow into relatively low shrubs. Depending on the height of growth, the specialist trade often differentiates between dwarf (up to 40 centimeters), small (up to 80 centimeters), medium (up to 150 centimeters) and strong-growing (over 150 centimeters) representatives.

The Japanese azaleas in particular grow low, small-leaved and with fine shoots. They rarely grow taller than one and a half meters.

All azaleas are bushy and grow in width rather than height. Like the rhododendrons, they show an overwhelming variety of colors and shapes, with the flowers growing in umbels and often in the shape of a trumpet. There are filled and unfilled varieties.

There is often an impressive autumn color, with some showing an interestingly colored shoot.

Depending on where they grow in the house or in the garden, there are differences in the flowering time: Indoor azaleas bloom mainly in winter or early spring, they are not hardy and freeze to death at temperatures close to zero. You can spend the summer in a shady, wind-calmed place outdoors.

The flowering time of the garden azaleas falls in spring, depending on the variety, the flowers appear between March and May.

A distinction is often made in specialist shops between early, medium and late flowering. The color palette ranges from white to pink, red and purple to yellow and orange.

Azalea leaves are always simple and have no stipules, typically an elliptical to egg shape. Depending on the species, hairiness or glandular formation can be typical. 

Location and soil

Wild azaleas grow in cool and damp mountain forests: That’s why they want to be protected from wind and strong UV radiation in the garden too.

They prefer a place under a sparse treetop, which allows enough light to penetrate the ground and also ensures a relatively high level of humidity.

Basically, however, azaleas can withstand more sun than rhododendrons. The roots run almost horizontally in the upper centimeters of the soil, which is usually enriched with a lot of humus. It is important that there is enough moisture in the soil, but that there is still no water build-up. A pH value between four and five is optimal: Few plants like it that acidic.

Indoor azaleas like temperatures around 15 degrees Celsius in the house. In a warmer environment, more needs to be poured. Wherever Rhododendron simsii does not feel comfortable, the room azalea reacts by dropping leaves and buds.

The variety ‘Christine’ is considered to be particularly heat-tolerant. From mid-May, the room azalea should spend the warm season in the shade of a deciduous tree.

To prevent the pot from overheating, it can be buried in the ground. Before the frost, the room azalea has to go back into the house and stand there in a light and cool place. If this phase fails, the buds dry up. A blooming room azalea can then stand a little warmer, but not above 18 degrees Celsius. Slow adaptation to the house climate is important.

Planting

Few soils are inherently suitable for azaleas. You have to bring in a lot of acidic, organic material so that the basis is right. Peat does not necessarily have to be used; composted bark fibers, rotted oak leaves and coniferous soil also create an acidic environment.

The planting hole for the azalea must be large, it should have four times the ball diameter. Everything should be right at the beginning, because the fine roots of the azaleas do not want to be disturbed by soil work. Under no circumstances should you plant an azalea too deep, as this inhibits the development of roots and impairs the flowering capacity.

Azaleas are best planted in the spring after the frosts, so they have time to establish themselves by autumn. Mulch, in a layer three centimeters thick, applied immediately after planting, keeps the moisture in the soil and suppresses the competitive flora.

How to care for Azaleas

The azaleas are usually fertilized with nitrogen-rich horn shavings until mid-May . Depot fertilizers must be low in salt so that the fine roots do not burn.

Azaleas have a relatively high water requirement, the pad should feel like a squeezed sponge. In indoor culture, azaleas are most effectively cared for by dividing until no more air bubbles rise. Excess water must be able to drain off.

To cut

As a rule, azaleas do not need topiary. You only break out withered inflorescences. If a correction is necessary, the azaleas are cut immediately after flowering.

Winter protection

A protective mulch cover that prevents the soil from freezing is useful for garden azaleas. In order to rule out frost drought, you should water again and again if the ground is open.

use

Room azaleas are the flower stars in the winter apartment. Especially small representatives of the garden azaleas are suitable for the design of rock gardens and Japanese gardens.

Higher forms are suitable for free-growing hedges or as solitaires, especially as pre-planting in front of larger rhododendrons or in the heather garden.

Important species and varieties

From a horticultural perspective, the deciduous azaleas are divided according to their origin. Ghent azaleas, for example, come from the Belgian city of Ghent and are the oldest breeding group.

Pontica azaleas is their second name because Rhododendron luteum (formerly Azalea pontica) played a key role in the development of the variety. Ghent azaleas are hardy, can reach heights of up to three meters, and the trumpet flowers are relatively small.

Rustica azaleas are closely related to the Ghent azaleas, but have double flowers. Its previous name was Azalea rustica flore pleno. Mollis azaleas go back to the earlier Azalea mollis, which today is actually Rhododendron molle subsp. is called japonicum. Occidentalis azaleas come from the North American azalea Rhododendron occidentale, Viscosa azaleas from the North American Rhododendron viscosum.

The Knap Hill azaleas grown in England are very popular with the deciduous azaleas at the moment, because they score points with their abundance of flowers, variety of colors and robustness even in suboptimal locations, as well as their striking autumn color. They are often referred to in the trade as scented azaleas.

The Japanese azaleas are characterized by an overwhelming abundance of flowers and bright colors, most of which do not grow more than a meter in height.

They usually grow flat. Here, too, there are a large number of groups, such as Arendsii azaleas or Aronense azaleas, which are named after their breeders.

Kurume azaleas go back to the southern Japanese city of the same name. Kaempferi azaleas are characterized by their relatively large flowers and leaves, while Kiusianum azaleas have both small flowers and small leaves.

Multiplication

The azaleas are propagated by cuttings and increasingly also by tissue culture.

Diseases and pests

Black vine weevils and spider mites are some of the most common pests. In azalea earlobe disease, the leaf blades are thickened and later frosted white. Powdery mildew is particularly troubling for the Knap Hill azaleas.

Conclusion

Azaleas would make a beautiful addition to your home garden. In this article, we have discussed the best way for growing your Azaleas.

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