The azalea plant is among the most colourful and beautiful of flowering shrubs. Domesticated to become an indoor flowering plant, many varieties can be placed outdoors for the Yukon summer months and wintered indoors.
By following a few simple tricks of the trade, you can grow azaleas to produce a flowering period of three to four times per year. Here’s what to do:
First, purchase your plant with good healthy flower brackets in a tight compact bud stage. Many florist and plant shops will keep their azaleas in a chilled cooler to allow for flowers to remain in a dormant budding stage.
To make the most of this spectacular blooming plant, take time to give your plant the special care it requires for optimum health. Unlike tropical plants, azaleas require plenty of water.
The weight of the planter should feel heavy at all times. You may find your rhododendron absorbs water best when placed in a sink of warm water.
During the flowering period, azaleas require a minimum of four hours of indirect sunlight. This plant will thrive if you can position it to have cooler evening and night temperatures.
With proper care, azaleas will re-bloom with natural gusto. Once the flowers have finished, prune spent blossoms and re-shape the plant into a compact, mounded form.
Re-pot the plant using a medium that is two parts peat moss and one part sterilized potting soil, with one part sand or perilite for soil conditioning and moisture retention.
At this time, the plant then requires four to six weeks of cool dormancy. It is not necessary to place the plant in a dark environment, simply a cool location.
Once this period of hibernation has passed, bring your azalea back into a warm, well-lit location. Start fertilizing with a composition rich in phosphorus, to stimulate flowering.
You will find that new growth will start almost immediately. Once flower buds develop, discontinue fertilizer use. Contrary to most flowering plants, the azalea does not require fertilizer during the flowering periods.
Once the last frost has passed, azalea plants can be placed outdoors for the summer months. (It is best to make this transition gradually to avoid shock to the plant.)
Select an area of your garden that avoids direct summer heat and sunlight. Be sure to select a container with good water retention as azaleas tend to dry out quickly outdoors.
And select a vessel on the larger side, to hold additional moisture. An azalea will thrive in high-humidity conditions. Try placing the plant near a water fountain. The natural water spill will add to the health of the plant.
In their multitude of natural colours, ranging from white to pink to salmon and fuchsia-red colours, the azalea is a wonderful gift for any plant-lover and enthusiast. The hardy azalea is sure to give years of lasting enjoyment – both indoors and out.