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Growing Azaleas: 4 Variants You Should Know About


Azalea flowers belonging to rhododendron species bloom in May or June; this flower is developed from Japanese species and thrives for years, and continues to grow while alive. Native azalea reaches up to 20 feet tall, but dwarf variety stands only two to three feet, while those varieties best for gardens are those that grow four to six feet in height.

The shrub of azalea generously spreads on the ground; the low-spreading breed forms a dense shrub from three to four feet wide, while some reach up to eight feet. There are two kinds of azalea, deciduous and evergreen. The evergreen variety usually keeps most of its leaves all year round; this is most popular for planting in the gardens or around landscapes and homes.

The deciduous variety drops all leaves in fall and grows back during the winter. The variety is best planted for woodlands, and most of this variety is indigenous to South Carolina. Several cultivars are now available and produce hybrid species.

Types of Azalea

Because of their lush leaves and majestic flowers, azaleas are beautiful in the spring. There are already different cultivars available, a result of the hybridization of species over the years. Each of these cultivars has its uniques characters; some of the commonly available hybridized types are: 

Southern Indica Azalea

The Southern Indian azalea has large flowers and leaves; the blooming season starts in late March up to early April. It is ideal for patio landscaping because of its height that stands seven to ten feet high, giving shade during hot, sunny days.

Popular varieties include Formosa, a magenta flower; the pure white named Mrs. G.G Gerbing which is tolerant to sun and heat; the orchid pink, light pink, and rose pink Geroge L. Tabor, Judge Solomon, and Pride of Mobile, respectively. 

Watering is highly regulated; over-watering turns the leaves into brown and might result in droopy leaves and oxygen starvation. Oxygen is responsible for the plants' cellular respiration and plays a crucial role in its photosynthesis. Occasional pruning should be done to get the desired shape and lush of the plant.

Kurume Azalea

Kurume azalea is an evergreen, compact, and slow-growing variety developed by a Japanese nurseryman from Kyushu's island in the southernmost of Japan; it blooms in late March to mid-April. Popular varieties include Coral Bells, Hinodegiri, Pink Pearl, and Snow. Flowers' colors are white, salmon pink, vivid red, clear pink, and white.

Soil should always be damp as the roots can easily dry out. The plant needs acidic soil; thus, it is recommended to use rainwater for watering the plant; it has a pH value of 5.0 - 5.5, and since azaleas need a pH or acidity value of 4.5 - 5.5, thus clean rainwater is best for the plant.

Kaempferi Azalea

The type is a woody and evergreen shrub that grows easily and maintains easily; this is very cold-resistant; a shrub that grows upright up to 8 feet tall. Its varieties include Anna Marie, Cleopatra, and Fedora with white, pink, and light pink colors. This type is called the Torch or Kaempfer azalea, named Yama Tsutsuji in Japan.

Kaempferi is the most common variety in Japan found south of Kyushu island to the north of Hokkaido island. It is named after Englebert Kaempfer, a Dutch merchant who illustrated a book Amoenitates Exoticase in 1712; in 1892, C.S Sargent imported the seeds to the Arnold Arboretum, cultivated in the west, and it flowered in 1897.

Same with other rhododendrons, this variety is susceptible to disease and infestation. Some of the insects that infest the plant are aphids, lace bugs, borers, mites, etc. Rotten root, crown rot, leaf spots are among the common diseases that attack the plant. The plant needs only a partial shade with only about 2-6 hours of direct sunlight exposure. Soil requirement is acidic and should have good drainage using perlite.

Satsuki Azaleas

Satsuki azaleas are popular for bonsai propagation because they can thrive well in container growing and root pruning, and their trunk grows fast in a short period. In full bloom, it has gorgeous flowers in prolific amounts. 

This plant blooms well in late spring, which gives the meaning of Satsuki in Japanese terms. Bunkwa, Gumpo Pink and Gumpo White, Higasa, and Shinnyo-no-Tsuki are the most popular varieties. This lovely bonsai species needs damp soil all the time; it does not like to dry out as it quickly dies of its fibrous roots. Give the plant its food fertilizer for nutrients every other week using a balanced organic fertilizer solution until the flowering period ends. 

Avoid feeding the plant while in bloom as it will lose its flowers and flower buds. Increase the amount of phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer mix to help buds and blossoms set out for the next season,


There are a hundred types of azalea, with several varieties in each type. Each type and even each variety give each their splendor and beauty with the different colors they have. Each also has its care guide and different propagation and growing methods. Always learn the appropriate method before deciding on the type and variety to grow; it will ensure a healthy plant, lush leaves, and full bloom azalea.

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