ShadyGardens Blog

April 14, 2012

Oconee Azalea: Rhododendron Flammeum

Filed under: azalea, flame, flammeum, gardens, nursery, oconee, orange, pink, rhododendron, Shady, speciosum — shadygardens @ 1:13 pm

We are very excited about the newest plant to our garden this year. Oconee Azalea is a deciduous native azalea with brightly colored blooms in several different hues. I have spent several years searching for this shrub.

Since it is unethical and often illegal to dig plants from the wild, we have been looking for a wholesale source for this plant in order to also offer it to other native azalea lovers.

Rhododendron Flammeum,
formerly known as Speciosum, is commonly referred to as the Oconee Azalea and the Flame Azalea. Flammeum is a deciduous azalea native to the Piedmont region of
Georgia and South Carolina.

Also often called the
Flame Azalea, Rhododendron Flammeum displays bright flame-colored blooms in brilliant
shades of apricot, coral, pink, orange, red, or yellow. Sometimes different
shades even appear on different branches of the same shrub!

This species is all about
variety. Not only can bloom color vary greatly, but growth habit can differ
from one plant to another.  The Oconee
Azalea ranges from a low mounding shrub to a tall tree-like form of 6  feet or more.

Blooms are not fragrant
and appear usually sometime in April, after the Piedmont (Canescens) but before
the Swamp and Alabama Azalea.

Flammeum can tolerate
summer heat in gardens of the Deep South.

Hardiness:
USDA Zones 6 – 9.

Site:  Part shade or filtered sunlight. High shade beneath tall hardwoods & pines is ideal.

Moisture: Regular water is best for optimum blooms and growth for year round beauty. Most azaleas are drought tolerant once they’ve been in the garden a few years.

Soil:
Well-drained soil on the acidic side is important for all azaleas and
rhododendrons. Amend the planting soil with compost or soil conditioner at
planting time, especially if you have clay soil.

*Mulch well
to retain moisture and keep the roots cool. 
Azaleas have shallow roots close to the surface of the soil, so do not
cultivate the soil after planting. 

A low groundcover beneath azaleas serves two purposes. Not only does a colorful groundcover accent the azalea, but also it will help to discourage weed growth. 

For more information on the Oconee Azalea as well as many other species Rhododendrons, please visit Shady Gardens Nursery.

May 29, 2010

State Wildflower of Georgia: Native Azalea

Filed under: azalea, Georgia, native, rhododendron, state, wild, wildflower — shadygardens @ 4:09 pm
Since 1979, the native azalea has been the official state wildflower of Georgia. A certain variety was not chosen since several different species occur naturally in every county in Georgia.

Native azaleas are a member of the rhododendron family and are deciduous shrubs. Most varieties of these wild azaleas have highly fragrant blooms. Bloom color is spectacularly diverse and can be white, pink, yellow, orange, red, or any combination of those colors. With several species planted, you can have blooms in your garden from March all the way through August. 

These wild azaleas naturally occur in the woods, but they will often flower much more profusely when planted in full sun. Some species cannot take direct sunlight, but most varieties can tolerate morning sun or filtered sun beneath tall deciduous hardwood trees.  Beneath large oak trees is an ideal location for native azaleas, since the fallen oak leaves contribute to an acid soil favored by all azaleas.

Native rhododendrons will become more drought tolerant once established, but water regularly the first few years. 
Well-drained soil is necessary for the survival of all azaleas, but Rhododendron viscosum, commonly referred to as the Swamp Azalea, can grow in wetter soil where it will receive ample water to grow large and full.

Rhododendron viscosum
The early spring blooming native azaleas form their bloom buds in late summer, right when Georgia is usually experiencing a drought. To insure that you have fragrant blooms to enjoy in March and April, water your azaleas weekly during August and September unless it is raining regularly. 

A very popular native azalea species is Rhododendron Austrinum, the Florida Flame Azalea.  The Florida Azalea is prized for its colorful fragrant blooms appearing in early March. This is one of the easiest wild azaleas to grow, since it tolerates heat and drought once established. 

Rhodendron austrinum

If pink is your color, you have more than one choice. Most often seen in the woods of Georgia is the Piedmont Azalea, Rhododendron canescens. This wild azalea is also easy to grow and will eventually become a large specimen. Bloom color on this one can actually vary on individual plants though, and you might end up with flowers that are more white than pink.

That is also true of Rhododendron colemanii, the Red Hills Azalea. Native to the Red Hills of Alabama, this azalea can also be found growing wild near the Chattahoochee River in Georgia. Blooms on this one can be white, pink, yellow, or orange. 

As you can see in the photo above, the Red Hills Azalea can have both yellow and pink on the same plant. If you prefer a pink bloomer on either the Piedmont or the Red Hills Azalea,  choose your plants in spring when they are in bloom.

For a white garden, you have several choices. In addition to the Swamp Azalea, you might choose either the Sweet Azalea or the Alabama Azalea for fragrant white flowers. Rhododendron arborescens is often considered to have the loveliest flowers of all. Solid white blooms are deliciously fragrant, which is probably the reason for its common name of Sweet Azalea. 

The Alabama Azalea, Rhododendron alabamense, can be found growing in Georgia as well. White blooms with a bright yellow blotch smell like lemons. This wild azalea is very drought tolerant once established, making itself at home on dry rocky slopes in Alabama and Georgia. Even if summer drought kills the topgrowth, this shrub will usually send up new stems from the roots the next spring.

Alabama Azalea

One of the more difficult to grow native azaleas is also one of the most beautiful. Made famous by Callaway Gardens is the red blooming Plumleaf Azalea, Rhododendron Prunifolium. This plant occurs naturally only in a few counties in Georgia and Alabama in the Chattahoochee River Valley. Blooms are a vivid red or orange red. The Plumleaf Azalea needs a spot in the garden more shaded and cool. Rhododendron prunifolium wants no direct sunlight whatsoever. Don’t forget to water this one during periods of drought or you’ll lose it. 

Rhododendron Prunifolium, Plumleaf Azalea

The most common problem with growing native azaleas is actually finding some available for sale in the first place.  Most varieties of wild azaleas are either protected or endangered, so it is unlawful to dig them from the wild for transplanting in your garden. Online nurseries are a great source for native plants of all kinds, including native azaleas. A good selection of these fragrant native azaleas and many other native plants can be found at Shady Gardens Nursery.

October 13, 2009

Native Azaleas: Plant Now for Spring Blooms & Fragrance

Filed under: American, azalea, buy, garden, gardens, native, nursery, online, plant, plants, rhododendron, sale, shade, Shady, ship, shrub, species — shadygardens @ 2:27 pm
Native Azaleas are definitely a spectacular show in spring, but don’t wait till Spring to plant them! Shrubs planted in Fall have a much better chance to get established and become healthy plants by next summer. 

The American Native Azaleas, species Rhododendrons, are deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves for the winter. This defoliation begins quite early in fall, depending on the climate conditions and the variety. Usually the earlier the bloom time in spring, the earlier leaf loss occurs in Fall.  
Fall is the best time to transplant shrubs because they are then dormant. Fall planted shrubs have all winter to become established before time to bloom and grow next year. This is especially important when your plants are received by mail, as is most often true with rare plants like native azaleas.
When planting native azaleas, soil preparation is key. All azaleas prefer well-drained soil. Amend the soil for drainage, especially if your soil is clay.  Prior to planting your native azalea, work in some compost or composted manure and shredded bark to the planting hole. To help insure good drainage, mound up the soil so your azalea is planted high. Be sure that the root collar is slightly higher than soil level so water will drain away when those heavy downpours occur.
 
When planning your native azalea garden, consider the site. Native azaleas naturally occur in the filtered light beneath large trees near stream banks, but will grow in full sun when water is adequate.  They perhaps will bloom more profusely in full sun, but need more water with more sun. 
Make sure you can get water to the plant if drought occurs. Native azaleas are quite drought tolerant once established, however, water weekly the first year or two, as the plant grows in to its new environment.  Also, the blooms buds are formed during late summer on the early blooming varieties, and if your area is prone to a late summer-early fall drought, pay attention to those weekly waterings, so you won’t miss out on your fragrant spring blooms! 
Finally, obtain some good organic mulch. Azaleas have a shallow root system. Apply a thick layer of any organic mulch such as shredded bark, leaves, or straw to conserve moisture and keep the roots cool. Never cultivate around your native azaleas, since this can damage those shallow roots. 

Once planted, your native azaleas will need water at least once weekly to insure good root development and beautiful blooms for years to come. 
For more information on the beautiful and fragrant native azaleas, visit us at Shady Gardens Nursery.

 

September 30, 2009

Fall Planting: Shubs that Will Flourish!

Filed under: azalea, bloom, blueberry, buy, fall, garden, gardens, Hydrangea, nursery, online, plant, Rain, sale, Shady, ship, shrub — shadygardens @ 2:02 pm
Fall is the best time to plant shrubs and trees. Our weather usually begins cooling off in September, making gardening easier on both the plant and the gardener! Although daytime temperatures are still hot, our nights are cooler. 
October is a great time to plant Azaleas, Blueberries, and Hydrangeas. This time of year just brings better weather for shrubs to establish themselves without having to fight for their lives! So if you dream of beautiful blooms covering your yard on shrubs like azaleas, hydrangeas, snowball bushes, etc, do yourself and your plants a favor and plant them now, instead of waiting until spring. If your dream includes eating tasty blueberries from your own garden, plant those now too! 
Since we are now receiving regular rainfall here in Georgia, you can take advantage of that and be ready to plant when another shower is headed your way.
Shrubs planted in fall will have a head start over spring planted ones, and will have a greater chance of survival during our heat wave next summer. Even though the top growth of the plant will be dormant and might not even have any leaves, the roots will continue to grow through the winter. So get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having!

September 4, 2009

Rhododendron My Mary: Fragrant Yellow Azalea

Filed under: azalea, deciduous, garden, George Beasley, My Mary, nursery, online, rhododendron, sale, Shady Gardens, ship, shrub — shadygardens @ 8:59 pm

Rhododendron ‘My Mary’ is a new plant for me. Aside from the large and very fragrant yellow blooms appearing in April, the romantic story behind the name compelled me to plant this one.‘My Mary’ is a deciduous hybrid azalea–a cross between Rhododendron Nacoochee and Rhododendron Austrinum (the native Florida Flame Azalea.) As written above, the blooms are large and very fragrant–a beautiful yellow funnel-shaped flower with an orange tube. The flowers are borne in clusters, or bouquets, as I like to call them. As you might imagine, pollinators of every sort just love them!

Rhododendron ‘My Mary’ was developed by the well-respected Mr. George Beasley of Lavonia, Georgia, who named this plant after his wife, Mary. She must indeed be lovely, to have such a plant named in her honor. I’m proud to have this shrub in my humble garden.

Hardy in USDA Zones 5-8, this deciduous rhododendron can be grown almost anywhere in the United States.

 
Culture is the same as for just about any other rhododendron or azalea: well-drained soil with a nice addition of humus, regular water (weekly is great), partial shade, and a thick layer of mulch to protect the roots.

 
For more information on this plant, you may contact us at
Shady Gardens Nursery or consult the Missouri Botanical Garden Plantfinder, who so graciously permitted us to use their lovely photos.

August 4, 2009

Rhododendron colemanii: Red Hills Azalea Discovered Growing Wild in Alabama

Recently I learned of a newly discovered deciduous azalea native to Georgia and Alabama called the Red Hills Azalea. Rhododendron colemanii ‘Red Hills’ is a wild azalea that grows in the Red Hills region of South Alabama and eastward barely into Georgia along the Chattahoochee River. This newly discovered species is one of the tallest, most richly colored, and most fragrant of all the native azaleas. The late blooming flowers (usually May) can be any color from pure white to deep pink or even yellow or orange.

Red Hills azalea seems to prefer cooler bottomlands near creeks and streams. I’d suggest siting this plant in the shade of tall hardwoods and providing regular water.

If you’re looking to add to your collection of rare native azaleas, you’ll want to check out this one. To purchase this plant, click here.

June 12, 2009

Swamp Azalea: Rhododendron Viscosum

Filed under: azalea, buy, fragrant, garden, native, nursery, online, rhododendron, sale, shade, Shady, ship, Swamp, viscosum, white bloom — shadygardens @ 1:02 pm

If you like fragrant plants, you’ll want Rhododendron Viscosum in your garden! Most often referred to as Swamp Azalea, Rhododendron Viscosum is a native azalea found in the Eastern United States. Pure white blooms in early summer have a pleasing spicy scent reminiscent of cloves.

Swamp Azalea, as the name implies, is one of the few azaleas that can tolerate periodically wet soil. This plant can grow in regular garden soil, but it does not want to miss out on water. If you can water regularly when rainfall is absent, Swamp Azalea will be easy for you to grow in your garden. Grows very tall near streams.

Rhododendron Viscosum can be grown almost anywhere in the United States since it grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 4-9.

Swamp Azalea can be grown in full sun if regular water is available. Otherwise, filtered sun/shade is best.

May 23, 2009

Marydel Azalea

Filed under: atlanticum, azalea, buy, marydel, nursery, online, plant, rhododendron, sale, Shady Gardens, ship, shrub — shadygardens @ 3:01 pm

Marydel Azalea is definitely one of my new favorites! Large bouquets of pink flowers fragrance my garden in April and May. We Georgians can’t take the credit for this one–it was found growing naturally on private property which covered an area between Maryland and Delaware–thus the name ‘Marydel.’

It is not certain whether Marydel is a naturally occurring cross between Rhododendron Atlanticum and Periclymenoides or just a pink-flowering form of R. Atlanticum, but Marydel is definitely a spectacular plant in any garden.
One might think that it would need cooler temperatures, since it grows naturally in the northeast, but Marydel has proven herself to be quite tolerant of our Georgia climate.
In addition to huge, beautiful, fragrant blooms in spring, Marydel’s foliage seems to stand up well to our heat and humidity. Foliage attains a burgundy hue with the onset of our cold temperatures in late fall.
Try Marydel in your garden and you will not be disappointed!

Spring Rain is Great for the Garden!

Filed under: aspidistra, azalea, drought, Hellebore, Hellebores, Hydrangea, juniper, native, Oakleaf, Rain, rohdea, spirea, tolerant — shadygardens @ 2:22 pm

Here in Georgia we have enjoyed lots of spring rain! It has been nice to be able to plant so many additions to our garden this year. You see, for the last few years, we have been under severe drought. Summer before last, we lost every single bigleaf hydrangea we had, and they were well-established shrubs we’d had for about 10 years!

Needless to say, we’ve been planting only drought tolerant plants since then. But even drought tolerant plants need water at first to get off to a good start. And water from rain is the best! So each time rain is in the forecast, I’m out there planting again.

Our new plantings consist of the following drought tolerant plants:

  • Oakleaf Hydrangea
  • Evergreen Azaleas
  • Native Azaleas
  • Hellebores
  • Rohdea
  • Aspidistra
  • Spirea
  • Juniper

We’ve also planted a number of Camellias, since we’re getting all this rain. They’ll be drought tolerant too, once established. The photo shown was taken at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia. A lake is one thing we lack here at Shady Gardens. Perhaps one day we can install one of those manmade lakes…

April 26, 2009

Alabama Azalea

Filed under: Alabama, alabamense, azalea, buy, drought tolerant, native, nursery, online, rhododendron — shadygardens @ 2:06 pm

Lovely white blooms in April have a spicy lemon scent. The Alabama Azalea is native to East Alabama. A native plant rarely found in the wild, Alabama Azalea is is usually found growing in poor, rocky soil. The Rhododendron Alabamense is a hardy, drought tolerant native azalea that will grow well anywhere in the Southeastern United States.

Blooms are white with a yellow blotch. Too bad computers don’t have ‘scratch & sniff’, because the blooms smell so good–kind of lemony and spicy!

Alabama Azalea is hardy in USDA Zones 7-9.

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