Azaleas - A Beautiful Flowering Shrub
Bumblebees and Bright Pink Azaleas
My Experience and Appreciation for Azaleas
It wasn't until we lived in Texas, that I saw how beautiful azalea bushes can be. They were very popular, and you would see them in reds, pinks, and whites, purples, etc. I can recall certain neighborhoods at particular times of the year and how amazing a whole street could look when they were in their full bloom.
The way azaleas can lighten up a landscape is just amazing. The little flowers themselves are very pretty. The bush is very hardy as well, and came back every spring with as much life and color as the prior one before. Only once have I seen that not be the case, and the location and upkeep was not the best for one azalea. I have learned a lot since then however, and miss that little white blooming azalea.
They are obviously loved by those that grow them and enjoy their beauty, but I recall noticing how much the local bees loved them as well. In the correct location, these beautiful flowering shrubs are a real winner in my book.
White and Pink Azaleas Growing in Dappled Shade
Information On Azaleas
Azaleas and rhododendrons are both members of the same genus. I recently did a hub on rhododendrons as well. Both of these plants thrive in very similar conditions. Azaleas comprise two of the eight subgenera of the genus rhododendron.
In the past, I had always thought about these shrubs separately though they are obviously very closely related. Having enjoyed them for years now in gardens, I can usually tell the difference between them. At least I think that is the case! Regardless, they literally brighten up a landscape wherever they are happily growing during their bloom time. The two main subgenera are Tsutsuji and Pentanthera, and they are lovely.
Generally speaking, many rhododendrons are evergreen, while many of the azaleas are deciduous. While a large portion of the focus here is on the flowers of azaleas, don't forget to consider the beauty of the foliage as well. You will be enjoying that part of the shrub for much more of the year than the flower anyway. Some are very beautiful.
Bright Pink Azaleas
Azaleas - Poll
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Red Azaleas Along a Pond
Site Conditions for Azaleas
To have the most happy and thriving azaleas, follow some of these basic tips for choosing location and preparing the soil for planting or transplanting.
1. Azaleas require soil that has a good amount of moisture, but is also porous.
2. When digging a hole for your azalea, you want to go about two feet down and allow for a generous width as well. Follow the instructions that come with your azalea if in doubt. Digging the hole much larger than you will need allows for the roots to grow freely while it is getting established. It makes them not so confined nor have to work as hard.
3. Once the depth is established for planting, make sure your azalea is not that depth and then refill the hole around your shrub roots. The soil should be a mixture of half loam, and half broken down leaf material (or peat.)
4. If you live in the Southern USA, the best time for planting are the months of November to April. If you live in the North, spring is a good time. Again, refer to your plants instructions, and feel free to ask your local nursery staff. I have found people that work with plants to be very helpful, or can direct you to someone that is.
5. The site you plant your azalea in should not be sunny a lot of the day. They prefer dappled shade and about two hours of sunlight. They also like to not be in the direct path of winds. My happiest azaleas grew more in the shade with a wall right behind them and a wooden gate on the other side. So I know this works.
Choptank River Strain - Rhododendron
More Information and Tips on Growing Azaleas
If you enjoy masses of colorful flowers in your view, planting a healthy azalea in a good location will yield you great results. If you have never seen several in bloom at once, its hard to imagine what I mean.
I have seen them growing in a huge hedge, which also acted as a privacy screen from neighbors.
Check the different varieties available to you as some bloom for only shorter periods of time, while others last longer. Some gardeners love to plant companion flowers that will begin to bloom as the others are finishing off their bloom cycle.
With the bright colors of the azalea flower, some great companion shrubs that give off some beautiful green as a good compliment, are as follows. Consider yew, pines, hemlock, and various trees to use for contrast. I have seen this done and the effect is very beautiful.
One other tip I saw was that on a smaller property, consider one with the best foliage as a good choice. I love azaleas in part for the reasons given, but also because a lot of flowers need full sun to bloom well. It is a true treat to see such color coming from a shaded area every spring and into the summer.
Pink Azalea that Thrives in the Shade
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