More Wonderful Garden Delights
Surely one of the most breath-taking delights of any garden must be gazing upon a bank of azaleas in full bloom! Rhododendrons, the family to which the azalea belong, are one of the more prolific flowering shrubs you could grace your garden with. Colours ranging from a deep magenta, through to pinks, corals, yellows and tangerines to a beautiful white, can set any winter garden ablaze with colour!
“Magenta,” the vividly purple or magenta coloured azalea and the “Alba” or white azalea, have large single funnel-shaped flowers. These two varieties of the Rhododendron Indica family, are good flowering, fast-growing shrubs that make up the backbone of any South African garden. They are also the perfect fillers and make excellent patio pot plants which can be trained as standards as well.
The evergreen shrub has leaves that, generally speaking, are shield-shaped and smaller than 4cm. They tend to grow upward and may spread outward. Gentle pruning after the flowering season may be necessary to prevent them from becoming too leggy or open in shape. You could also “pinch prune” by pinching off the old flower clusters right after the bloom is finished if the shape of the bush is good. This practice also improves flowering for the following season.
Where to plant your Azalea Indica Magentas and Albas
These shrubs are ideally suited to temperate and mild climates with high humidity. Azaleas like dry, dappled shade areas, under deciduous trees or partially wooded areas. They prefer acidic soil with plenty of organic mulching which will keep their root system moist. However, be careful not to disturb the root system as it is shallow and delicate. They should be protected from wind and midday sunlight. Soil should also be well-drained. Be careful of over- or under-watering which causes browning or yellowing of the leaves or leaf drop, respectively. Remember that most problems with Azaleas are caused by either over- or under-watering!
Azaleas are an attraction! Birds and butterflies which are among the key pollinators in the animal and insect world are attracted to azaleas! Any butterfly garden needs azaleas.