The Orange Azalea – in fact, any Azalea of any color – looks magnificent and quite glorious when this shrub is in full bloom. It gives you the feeling that you don’t want to take your eyes away. It is related to the Rhododendron, which should be mentioned during this article because of the connection.
The Azalea Shrub is a sight for sore eyes because it seems to bloom incessantly. It is sub-zero hardy yet perfectly easy to grow – quite a dream.
Hardy Plant – Intense Color
Talk about flaming color! The hardy Azaleas are the most outstanding flowering shrubs that bloom in magnificent profusion. Azaleas are so sturdy they thrive where winter temperatures drop below zero. Hardy Azaleas are far superior to old-fashioned varieties. Lovely flowers cover these plants as few others can do. They make the ideal foundation plants. One point to mention here is that their blooms do attract butterflies and hummingbirds. I believe the fragrance has a lot to do with it.
A Small Amount of Colour is Effective – Use Less, not More.
They say that a little bit of color can go a long way, and when it comes to Azaleas, they must have decided not to take chances, so they covered them with blooms that can take your breath away.
A Single Shrub is Often Enough
Please notice that I said ‘an’ Azalea – singular and not plural. I’ve always thought that one shrub in full bloom gives enough profusion of flower enough color – it’s all you need when it comes to bringing bright color to your garden.
People often want a broad sweep of color and if that is you, then try a dozen plants placed together for maximum effect, and why not consider some oriental grasses and a perennial – like the black-eyed Susan.
What’s the Difference Between Rhododendrons and Azaleas?
As is often the case with various plants, their botanical names and classification can be somewhat confusing. These results in improved use of genetics in identifying multiple plant species. Compared with what we did years ago, they were based mostly on visual cues.
Several plants have had their name changes in recent years, and I’ll give you the reason further along in this article. The Azalea Shrub is no exception. Once someone thought of it as a separate genus, but Azaleas have more recently been reclassified as part of the Rhododendron genus. But what is the difference?
If You Think of it Like that old Adage from the Geometry Class
If you think of it like that old Adage from geometry class (for those that bunked, I’ll be precise!), that a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not always a square. The same goes for these plants. Not all Rhododendrons are Azaleas, but the Shrubs we’re describing here, are Azaleas. If, on the Rhododendrons, it’s the plant species to which we’re referring.
Strange to say, without a powerful microscope, some of the differences between these plants are so incredibly subtle (and somewhat inconsistent, since there are a few exceptions).
There is an easy way to detect the difference between the two, and that the large, leathery leaves on a Rhododendron; you’ll often see large, leathery leaves and a tall height and spread. Yet, the leaves and general size for Azaleas are both smaller than those of the Rhododendron.
True Rhododendrons are also commonly evergreen. Azaleas may be deciduous, pretty, and so on, but they are not the real deal. They are just similar to Rhododendrons in many ways.
On the Azaleas, there are five stamens per lobe and one lobe per flower, whereas Rhododendrons have twice as many, and sometimes they have more stamens. The shape of their flowers also differs. The Azaleas have a flower shape more like a funnel, whereas the Rhododendron blossoms usually resemble bells.
However, it is a joy to inform you that both are beautiful, with very similar growth habits; and now related as they are part of the same family.
Azaleas are usually a statement piece. They are a singular flash of color in our respective gardens and a delightful structure that is at its best with one highlight (or a few, if you’ve got a large yard) in a sea of green.
With this name change, now, the Spring arrives and works its magic on the Azalia Shrubs. You’ll see the most beautiful small flowers that take your breath away, just as someone tells you that this is related to a Rhododendron. Suddenly Springtime encourages, the emerald green buds from trees and shrubs, and it is the Rhododendron that finds its most pleasing voice like a flash of intense color.
But that’s not a necessity. To say that every garden is a unique expression of its gardener’s owner might come as a surprise to the gardener concerned, but whatever works best for you is what is best for your home.
The other day I heard from a commercial gardener friend of mine that one of her clients recently ordered over three hundred azaleas to be planted on a slope to have enormous swaths of color visible from his kitchen. Maybe you prefer a riot of color? The Client had a reasonably large garden, but when one of these shrubs does so much, then three hundred is a huge order – probably making my friend and the Client very happy.
Other gardens and homes I’ve seen have neatly-pruned rows of brightly-colored pink-and-red shrubs that explode with color for weeks at a time. These designs are lovely and pleasing if you like that kind of thing! (Not everyone does)
The Azalea has become part of the Rhododendron family.
Rhododendron is for anyone who wants bright colors in their yard, saying hello to Spring and Summer. All you need is a moderately shaded area with excellent drainage and some acidic soil. But we do mean good drainage, or it won’t work (- it would become what my commercial gardener friend’s six-year-old daughter calls rainage – not drainage – she can’t pronounce the proper words as yet, and it sounds like a joke- but in this case, she’s right!).
The Planting Lowdown
A Rhododendron will be happy with the right placement, but if a few necessary conditions have not been met, these plants are going to let you know with stunted leaf growth, a lack of blooms, and yellow leaves – oh dear!
Let There Be Light, and There’ll Be a Happy Plant.
The right light is tied for the topmost vital factor. This is to plant the Rhododendrons. If perhaps, the Rhododendron plant gets too much sun, it could shrivel up; and yet, if it gets too little sun, it will grow as a flowerless shrub!
To resolve this, let’s say that they’re at their happiest in dappled shade – or, better yet, they’re at their most comfortable in dappled sunlight, and that is the ultimate solution; they’re at their happiest in dappled shade. Dappled sunlight being the solution.
You’ll want to plant these shrubs in a place that gets plenty of morning light with afternoon shade or where they receive varying levels of sunlight throughout the day. About six hours is ideal.
The Right Soil
The type of soil you choose is vital. It needs to be rich in organic matter, well-drained, but still moist –these are the preferred soil conditions for an Azalea. Then add a preference for high PH, and your rather picky plant should be happy.
Heavy soils damage the Rhododendron’s health, and soils primarily sandy in composition cause problems tool. The heavier soils hold on to too much moisture, while sandy ones drain the water away too quickly.
This Plant Spoils Itself by Insisting on the Right Growth Conditions
Rich organic matter in the soil is necessary for plant health as well, so avoid planting anything at that difficult corner of your garden. Remember you still have to have the soil of that dead corner (dead corner of your yard where nothing else will grow): analyzed and what the experts tell you to use, you must use then so that one day soon you will be able to grow things there.
When adding a new plant to the landscape, it’s useful to mix compost with the existing topsoil for Rhododendron health. An equal ratio would be best if you’ve got enough compost to spare. So, try 1 for 1 or 2 for two and see what happens.
If the soils you have are dense, they are not suitable for a Rhododendron, so you should consider – and I often wonder why people don’t – but you should consider rearranging things and then adding an extra bed, preferably raised slightly above the other one. Right growth conditions, sufficient room, and no reason for failure.
They Need Water
The plants must not sit in a wet spot, but they do need water.
A soaker hose that slowly drips water into your garden beds is probably your answer.
Good drainage is essential to plant health. Rhododendrons can make do with about one inch of rainfall a week. Therefore, if your expected rain levels are at the low end of the scale this week, your precipitation levels are on the land end of the scale, your precipitation levels are on the short end of the scale, these plants will need extra watering.
A soaker hose is a lovely method for watering most things in the garden. Set one up for your garden and enjoy the ease of watering by merely turning on the hose bib and keeping yourself busy for about half an hour.
Fertilize with Mulch
As picky as they are, fertilizing becomes a non-activity when caring for these flowering shrubs. A superficial layer of decomposed mulch applied once a year will add enough organic material to keep an azalea well-fed and content.
All in All
When planting your shrub, the soil is the most critical factor to bear in mind.
The plants are in the right location for them; they can be heaven for you. In the right place and with annual mulching, the plants won’t need any fertilizer. However, watch the weather because they must receive an inch of rain per week. If that happens, then you can leave them on their own.
Pruning Your Shrub
Someone should perform all pruning during the Springtime immediately after the shrub flowers begin to start their flowering. The Azalea begins to form the flowers for next year as soon it’s finished blooming for this year. It’s a very narrow window, and pruning seems to be ideal in this small time-space.
This type of Rhododendron has an informal growing habit so that any attempts to prune them into a boxy shape will be ineffective.
I think that everyone knows that hard pruning will result in irregular patches of flowers. We want to avoid that. Exercise some caution and think before removing too much of your Rhododendron.
Taking a step back and imagining the shape you’re going for before pruning. If that could reduce the shrub’s overall size, then look to decide what branch goes where and make as few cuts as you possibly can.
Hard pruning should be done infrequently—old and leggy Rhododendrons benefit nicely from a visit with the loppers. Remove two to three large limbs, maximum per year, towards or at the bottom of the shrub, which will make a massive difference to the plant.
New growth should rush forward to rejuvenate the plant,
Pests, Diseases, and Other Headaches
Suppose you’ve placed your Rhododendron correctly. There’ll be no need to worry too much about press and problems.
Insects like caterpillars and lace bugs can be handpicked or treated with insecticidal soap, respectively.
Below the ground’s surface, the plant may be affected by nematodes; there’s no treatment for this except a healthy and resistant Rhododendron planted in the right location.
More severe issues include bark scale, whiteflies, and leaf miners.
Bark scale will appear as an ashy, sooty substance on the wood that looks a lot like mealybugs. Your best bet is to remove the infected limbs and branches and dispose of them.
Whiteflies – when Whiteflies settle in, there are problems. The trick is to catch them as they arrive, or you’ll be stuck with them. They announce their presence with yellow, wilted, dying leaves. If you notice them immediately, they arrive, use Neem Oil to fend them off. If they’ve already moved in before you notice them, then depending on how much they’ve taken hold of your plant, be prepared to lose it.
Azalea leaf miner is a much more severe pest and can require the removal of infected plants.
Powdery mildew and petal blight are some of the usual problems but can usually be controlled with a suitable fungicide.
More severe issues include twig blight and rust; the removal and disposal of infected leaves and branches is the only safe solution.
Suppose your Rhododendron has yellowing leaves but exhibits no signs or symptoms of pest problems. Then your plant could have an iron deficiency called chlorosis. You can treat this with a topical treatment of iron.
When your plant is sick, be sure you know what’s wrong before you start playing doctor. As above, If you treat your plant topically for chlorosis and then it turns out to be a calcium deficiency, do you know what to do? Yes – an application of gypsum or even oyster shells. But, we should know the correct application in the beginning. That would save a lot of time and sufferance (by the plant)
Calcium deficiencies are another issue with Rhododendrons, indicated by inward curling leaves and leaf tip burn. If you see the leaves beginning to curl, please immediately treat this with a topical application of calcium; It can also be treated with an application of gypsum – or even oyster shells if you happen to have any.
Real Rhododendrons are also usually evergreen, whereas Azaleas are typically deciduous.
The Azaleas Flower has five stamens per lobe and one lobe per flower, whereas Rhododendrons have twice as many or sometimes more stamens. And the shape of their flowers differs as well, with Azaleas having a beautiful flower shape somewhat like a funnel. In contrast, the Rhododendron blossoms typically resemble bells with their bell-shaped flowers flashing color in the sun.
Both of the plants and flowers are beautiful, with similar growth habits.
The Planting of Azaleas
• Add some color to areas in the shade.
• Plant your Azaleas in the Best Times of Spring and Fall.
• Where to Plant Them? In a sunny spot that gets a reasonable amount of afternoon shade.
• When planting your Azaleas, fill the hole with a 50/50 blend. Of existing solid and Miracle-Gro Gro® plus fill the hole with a 50/50 blend of the existing soil
• Once planted, gently and thoroughly tamp down the soil and water.
• Try adding a 3-inch layer of mulch and keeping it 1-2 inches away from the base of each of the plants.
• Water Azaleas every five days, soaking the roots but avoiding wetting the flowers and leaves.
•A month after planting, begin regularly feeding with Miracle-Gro®, Water, Soluble Azalea, Camellia, and Rhododendron Plant Food.
• Azaleas are making a perfect statement piece, a singular flash of glorious color and delightful structure that is at its best as one wonderful highlight in a sea of greenery.
•A vibrant Orange Azalea Bush was blooming at the top of a stone wall in front of a brick house.
• That’s not necessarily a real need, a necessity; because we’re told that every garden is a unique and singular expression of the gardener.
Suppose every garden is a real need to reflect the owner. How can every garden be a unique expression of its gardener and still reflect its owner? Be careful here, as whatever works best for the gardener or owner is best for his home in his opinion, and, without other instructions from either of them, we must stick to that and think that the two are one. – we just don’t know which one.