Azaleas are a diverse species of shrub with characteristics that can differ from cultivar to cultivar. Here’s a brief rundown of these garden staples!
For the most part, azaleas are spring blooming evergreens that do best in full to partial shade and enjoy acidic soil. Deciduous varieties do exist but can be harder to find due to their lower popularity as they tend to bloom earlier in the spring.
Azaleas can vary widely in height, with some varieties reaching heights of 15 feet or more and other varieties only growing 1-2 feet tall. Average height tends to be around 4-6 feet at maturity.
Encore Azaleas are a more recent addition to the azalea family, making their debut in the 1980’s. These, along with other reblooming azaleas, are known and loved for their ability to bloom multiple times during the year. On average, reblooming azaleas will bloom 3-4 times during a single year, depending on the weather and temperatures. These newer azaleas also handle, and prefer, more sun than their traditional counterparts.
Azaleas bloom in a wide variety of colors. Evergreen azaleas bloom purple, pink, white, red, orange or in varying combinations of these colors. Deciduous azaleas bloom in similar colors along with yellow.
Planting – Planting needs vary but on average traditional azaleas should be planted in partial to full shade in well draining, acidic soil. Encore and reblooming azaleas should be planted in full to part sun, also in well draining acidic soil. Deciduous azaleas do best in part sun/part shade areas and should be planted in well draining, acidic soil.
Fertilizing – The best times to fertilize azaleas is in spring and again in early fall, preferably with an acidic fertilizer like Holly-Tone.
Pruning – It’s best to prune your azalea back after it has finished blooming for the year as many set their buds for next year on “old wood” (branches that are at least a year old) and pruning too late can remove those buds, decreasing the amount of flowers produced when it blooms again.
- It’s estimated that azaleas are nearly 50 million years old.
- Azaleas are members of the rhododendron family though they bear quite a few differences from true Rhododendrons. In general, azaleas are smaller at mature height, bear smaller leaves, smaller flowers, bloom in smaller clusters and their flowers have 4-5 stamens per flower (rhododendron flowers have around 10 stamens each).
- If you’re interested in native plants, there are several varieties native to North America. Almost all of them are deciduous and feature fantastic fall foliage.
- Until 1999, Native Azaleas were the state wildflower of Georgia
- In the language of flowers, Azaleas represent womanhood, temperance, fragility & passion.