1 My azalea collection is in a lightly wooded area near my blooming tree peonies, where they get filtered sunlight through the day - something they both prefer.
2 Azaleas are flowering shrubs in the Ericaceae family, which includes blueberries and mountain laurel. They are also all rhododendrons and members of the genus Rhododendron.
3 Azaleas are generally healthy, easy to grow plants. Some azaleas bloom as early as March, but most bloom in April and May with blossoms lasting several weeks.
4 Azaleas are native to several continents including Asia, Europe and North America. These plants can live for many years, and they continue to grow their entire lives.
5 The tube-shaped base of the flower contains a stamen that protrudes from the center. The leaves are often evergreen with wooly undersides.
6 Azalea petal shapes vary greatly. They range from narrow to triangular to overlapping rounded petals. They can also be flat, wavy or ruffled.
7 Azalea flowers can be single, hose-in-hose, double or double hose-in-hose, depending on the number of petals. These bold pink azalea blossoms are hose-in-hose and contain 10-petals each.
8 Many azaleas have two to three inch flowers and range in a variety of colors from pink to white to purple, red, orange and yellow.
9 Plant height ranges from about three to six feet for most varieties, but rare plants can range from under one foot to well over 15-feet tall.
10 The best time to shop for azaleas is when they are in bloom so you can see their flower colors and forms.
11 Buy plants that are sturdy, well-branched and free of insect damage or diseases. And, avoid plants with weak, spindling growth and poor root systems.
12 When selecting a location for planting, be sure you know the mature size of the plants so they can be grouped accordingly in the landscape - tall plants in the background and short plants in the foreground.
13 Azaleas thrive in moist, well-drained soils high in organic matter. Morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal.
14 Keep azaleas where they can be protected from midday and winter sun to prevent leaves from drying out and burning.
15 Once the plants establish their roots, scatter a handful of slow release organic fertilizer near each plant once in the early spring and again in the fall.
16 Here are more azalea buds just days before blooming.
17 Azaleas have short root systems, so they can easily be transplanted in early spring or early fall. Be careful not to plant too deep and water thoroughly after transplanting.
18 And never eat azaleas. Like its cousin the rhododendron, the azalea is a toxic plant, and all parts of the plant are poisonous, including the honey from the flowers.
19 Although azaleas are resistant to many pests and diseases, they are susceptible to some problems, including bark scale, petal blight, powdery mildew and a leaf disease called azalea gall.
20 Many factors influence the quantity of azalea blooms. If an azalea fails to bloom, it could be lack of moisture during late spring and summer; less than three hours of sun per day; or, poor plant nutrition, which could reduce the number of buds.
21 Prune azaleas after they bloom to remove tall, lanky growth or vigorous suckers that detract from the overall form and shape of the plant.
22 They benefit greatly from a few inches of acidic mulch applied around the base to protect its roots and help conserve moisture.
23 These plants are so stunning in any part of the landscape.