Today , I am just kind of giving some general knowledge and characteristics of Azaleas. They just scream “you are in Southern Alabama” ! When you think of a southern garden, there are certain plants that come to mind. Azaleas are probably at the top of that list.
Azaleas are Hardier than You Think
Although Full Sun and Azalea are something you probably NEVER hear together. Let me tell you, plant them..and they will grow!! I have a brutally hot corner of my yard that I literally had to use a pickaxe to break the ground up for planting. I planted two Autumn Twist Encore Azaleas last year and they are doing GREAT!
I thwarted a infestation of lacebugs late last year and they made it through the season. They are beautiful and actually blooming again right now ! I will not drive around in green envy of everyone else’s beautiful blooming azaleas come next spring!
Azaleas are Very Popular
In the Spring, there are very few places you’ll go around the Gulf Coast and not see azaleas in beautiful full bloom. Ranging in color from white to dark red and many bright hues of pink in between. There are even two-tone ! and solids with spots! The bright hot pink hues always cause rubbernecking while going down the road.
Types of Azaleas
The majority of azaleas are not Native but are hybrids from Japan. The hybrids are evergreen and will keep their leaves throughout the year. This makes them appealing to most people even after their blooms fade. The native azaleas, on the other hand, are deciduous and lose their leaves for the winter. I really normally shy away from anything not “evergreen” because it makes the garden so dreary in the off season. But I can not resist a native Azalea that’s deformed sitting on the reject wrack at any nursery or local plant show !
The hybrids are probably every blooming azalea you see when cruising around the south. They do well in shady, well drained, moist soil like every other plant in the universe. Which means, anyone can grow them and they are easy to grow! Just dig a hole a little bigger than the pot and water them regularly the first year or so and they should kick in and give you years of enjoyment.
The Native Azaleas seem a little harder to keep happy than the hybrids. They can become misshapen if not pruned, sparsely leaved, and grow SUPER slow ! Growing them is quite a bit more satisfying though because their flowers are amazing! There is nothing around that even resembles them nor compares to them really . They also have a sweet smell like a honeysuckle and resemble them close up.
I even have a yellow Native Azalea called “Florida Flame”.