Thursday, April 11, 2013

Color "Pops" with Azaleas

If your yard needs some color in spring try adding azaleas or rhododendrons bushes for a "pop!" The photos on today's blog were taken at my mom's and as you can see, the colors are brilliant from her every window.

Azaleas are a member of the "Rhododendron" family, as well as, the  evergreen"Tsutsuji" and deciduous "Pentanthera." families. They are native to Asia, Europe and North America, but amazingly, can be traced back 70 million years ago to the "Ericaceae" family which includes, rhododendrons, blueberries and pieris. Asian monks in Buddhist Monasteries first began to cultivate, grow and develop the hundreds of colors, sizes and species we can buy today at our local garden outlets.

Both azaleas and rhododendrons do best in moist acidic soil, just like the wood's dirt surrounding my mom's house. They like dappled sunlight, you find in or around the edge of woods.

Coral azaleas are planted at the back of mom's deck. Chinese culture calls it, "thinking of home bush," good name for Merl's yard.

Azaleas are slow-growing and once established take little fertilizer or care, maybe pruning, depending on the location. When planting, always break up the root ball first and insure the hole is several sizes bigger than the initial pot. Plus add peat moss, rich soil and especially some loving care.

This red azalea bush is one of mother's smallest.

Although, azaleas and rhododendrons are in the same family, azaleas blooms and leaves are smaller and usually have only one blossom per stem, however, colors and sizes vary depending on the species. 

The white azalea bushes are the last to bloom. Always wait to prune any blooming bush until after it stops blooming, plus, cuttings are the best method to propagate and add to your azalea collection. 

In the northern hemisphere azaleas bloom in spring while in the southern hemisphere they bloom in winter and especially in the southeastern United States, we celebrate the "Pop"  of their color with lots of festivals.

Valdosta, Ga., Mobile, Ala., Norfolk, Va., Wilmington, N.C. and Palatka, Fla. are the most well known for southeastern "Azalea Festivals" in the late March and April.

Let's don't forget the infamous "Master's" golf tournament (happening this week) in Augusta, Georgia. And of course last but not least, Callaway Gardens.

In 1930, Cason and Virginia Calloway discovered a color "pop" of bright orange-red native azaleas on a picnic that led to a family tourist attraction known as "Calloway Gardens," comprised of 13,000 acres today, anyone can enjoy. A little "pop" of color can go a long way!

Until Next Time.........

Happy Gardening 2013!

Posted by Wilma Smith

1 comment:

  1. I visited callaway on Monday all the azalea's are beautiful. Yours are pretty also.