Azalea a plant that suits every home: cultivation and care in a pot or in your garden
Azalea is a wonderful and extremely beautiful plant that belongs to the family of rhododendrons and is extremely popular as an outdoor plant in yards and balconies of our homes.
Azaleas are endemic plants of the highlands of Japan, China, and India, and this gives us an idea of what their care requirements are. In the wild they can grow in very large bushes. Cultivated forms are sometimes sold in the shape of a tree with vegetation appearing at the top of a long trunk. An astonishing number of varieties and cultivated varieties of azalea are commercially available, many of which are grown as potted plants. Extremely popular plant in every in mediteranean homes, the azalea, acquires special value if maintained with proper care and in the right conditions.
It is difficult to describe an azalea because it can be a pot 20 cm high or a shrub up to 6 meters high! In fact there are more than 3000 species, hybrids and varieties of rhododendron. In any case, azaleas are woody shrubs that we admire mainly for their rich, and sometimes fragrant flowers in the shape of a trumpet. Depending on the variety, these flowers can be from 2 to 10 cm long each. They are usually available in shades of pink, white, purple, orange and red. They can be spotted, bicolor, single or double. Many azalea varieties can be planted in the garden as evergreens but there are also many deciduous varieties. Azaleas are rhododendrons but rhododendrons are not azaleas. Common names are usually exchanged but we can say that azaleas are species that have 5 stamens and rhododendrons are species that have 10 or more stamens.
As you choose where to plant or place the azaleas do not forget the sun factor. Azaleas prefer plenty of morning light. However, avoid areas with midday or afternoon sun because they usually attract parasitic insects and night owls. Adjust the size of your plants. Not all azaleas are low-growing plants. Do not plant the young plants too close to each other, leave space between them for the future and not to make a temporary impression.
Azaleas need acidic soil. Adding peat, molten leaves and bark to the soil surface can help them create an ideal environment for them. This is especially important if you are planting them in your garden and especially in places near your home or other building, where lime can often penetrate the cement and disperse into the soil, making it alkaline. Even the gravel that we often get used to laying in our garden alleys can make the soil alkaline. If the soil in your garden is alkaline anyway, it is best to try growing azaleas in pots and pots. In this case, a soil mixture with a high peat content will help the situation.
The best time to fertilize azaleas is immediately after the end of spring flowering. Use a special fertilizer for azaleas.
Azalea loves moisture, but avoid planting it in soil that does not have good drainage. If you plant it in a garden with heavy clay soil, do not plant it deep and be sure to add a little light soil to the hole. It is important to add a layer of leaves above the ground to help retain moisture. This layer should be renewed after each lubrication. The azalea needs regular watering whether it is in a pot or in our garden. During periods of prolonged drought, dig their soil regularly just before watering and make sure the water reaches the deep roots.
Planting in a pot
Dig a hole in the pot as deep as the plant’s soil and twice as wide. Add soil mixture enriched with organic materials and cover the roots of the plant well so that they are at a depth of 10 cm from the soil surface. By planting shallowly you give the plant the drainage it needs but you should water more regularly.
Pruning is not so important, but if you want your plants to have some shape, the best time to prune them is immediately after flowering. Avoid giving your plants a spherical or other geometric shape. Azaleas look best when we let them grow in their own hill-shaped form. Make a border pruning, removing the long and protruding branches.
Azaleas come from seed but are usually propagated by shoot cuttings. If you are an amateur gardener you will not have much success trying to grow your plants with one method or the other. If you need more azaleas it is better to buy new plants.
Azalea is affected by relatively few diseases. If you are going to use pesticides to treat them, consult a specialist first. Do not worry if some leaves turn yellow and fall mainly during the fall. Except that some azaleas are deciduous, and evergreens sometimes shed some of their leaves. Azaleas often bloom in autumn. There is no way to avoid this. Enjoy their autumn blooms as much as you can because they may have sparse flowering next spring.
Images via: Pinterest