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Evergreen Azaleas for Garden and Greenhouse

NEWS & Blog

Azaleas

evergreen azaleas for garden and greenhouse One section of the evergreen azaleas, usually described as Indian azaleas, is derived from the distinctly tender Chinese and Formosan species Rhododendron simsii. The garden hybrids from this have fairly large double flowers, white, pink, salmon, orange-red, scarlet and crimson, often with one colour splashed on another, and as they can be gently forced into flower from October until March, they have become very popular as winter-flowering pot plants. Vast numbers of them are sold in the florist and plant shops, especially at Christmas, and this is the way most amateurs acquire them in the first place. Though they make excellent room plants for a few weeks, they usually deteriorate in time partly for lack of light, even more because they like a moderately moist, fresh atmosphere and find it too dry indoors.

During the summer they are quite happy standing, outdoors in a light but not too hot place but they must be watered well and they also like to be sprayed overhead so that the leaves are damp.

In October they should be brought into a cool greenhouse, conservatory or light room and should continue to be watered fairly freely. They are usually grown in a compost containing a lot of peat which, if it gets dry, is difficult to wet again. Should this happen the pot should be stood for ten minutes or so in a bucket of water and then allowed to drain. Peat contains little plant food, so azaleas should be fed every ten to fourteen days in spring and summer, preferably with a liquid fertilizer (a seaweed extract is ideal) diluted in water according to label instructions. Failure to flower after the first year is usually due to inadequate watering and/or feeding. Repotting is not, as a rule, necessary annually but when it is required a mixture of three parts peat, one part lime-free loam and one part lime-free sand is suitable.

There are early, mid-season and late-flowering varieties. The first are used for Christmas flowering and are grown in a temperature of 13-18°C (55-60°F) from the moment they are housed in October. Mid-season varieties are grown at a few degrees less until December, when the temperature is raised to bring them into flower in late January or February. Late varieties can be left to flower naturally in April-May or given a little extra warmth from January to start flowering in April.

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