Monday, May 3, 2010

Hybrid Decidous Azaleas Brighten The May Garden

The bright reds, oranges and yellows of the hybrid deciduous azaleas (Rhododendron spp.) are lovely among tall shade trees which protect them from the harsh afternoon sunlight of summer. Because their bloodline is from our native piedmont azalea species in the Eastern U.S., hybrid deciduous cultivars possess exceptional disease and insect resistance rarely seen in the more popular evergreen forms.
This past weekend I saw this lemon yellow gem (pictured) in a friend's garden in Lenoir, NC called 'Sunny Side Up'. The very popular 'Gibraltar' (bright orange) has been blooming over the past 15 years blooming in my northeast TN garden next to 'Gold Finch' (yellow-gold).
Annual care is very minimal: Feed once after flowering with any slow release azalea or evergreen fertilizer. To invigorate the azalea, prune back one or two very tall woody branches near the base of the shrub to promote new shoot growth. The new branches will likely flower next spring and many more thereafter. One year established shrubs are also very drought tolerant.

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