ShadyGardens Blog

November 7, 2011

Plant Azaleas in Fall instead of Spring!

Filed under: azaleas, canescens, fall, gardens, native, nursery, Piedmont, rhododendron, Shady, shrubs — shadygardens @ 8:21 pm

Rhododenderon Canescens, Piedmont Azalea

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 pine 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.


March 31, 2009

Piedmont Azalea

Piedmont Azalea is definitely one of the loveliest blooming shrubs in the South. And the fact that it is a native plant means it should be planted in every southern garden (in my opinion!)

The Piedmont Azalea, Rhododendron canescens, is native to the Piedmont region of the Southeast, making it suitable for growing anywhere in Georgia.

The fragrant blooms can be anywhere from a vivid pink to a soft pink or even a pinkish white. Blooms appear in very early spring before the leaves on this deciduous shrub.

Although Piedmont Azalea naturally occurs in the warm southern United States, it is hardy to areas as cold as USDA Zone 5.

All azaleas prefer well-drained soil, so you should amend your soil with soil conditioner or composted bark to improve drainage if your soil is clay.

Native Azaleas are usually found growing in the woods but will bloom more profusely in full sun as long as water is adequate.

Bloom buds are formed in late summer and early fall, so pay close attention to watering during this time. When a native azalea fails to bloom, lack of water during bud formation is usually the culprit.

Native azaleas are drought tolerant once established, but water weekly the first year or two to make sure your plant gets a good start.

March 30, 2008

Native Azaleas Brighten the Shade Garden

Each year at the beginning of spring, I eagerly anticipate the blooming of our native azaleas. Available in a rainbow of colors–pink, yellow, orange, white, or red, these plants are superior to any other plant, in my opinion. A member of the Rhododendron family, native azaleas are deciduous, and some varieties bloom before leafing out in very early spring. Most of the American native azaleas are fragrant too, with a very pleasant but not overpowering honeysuckle scent. Another important feature is that most of the Native Azaleas are drought tolerant, once established. (‘Once established’ is the key though, since no plant is established the first year!)
The first to bloom in my garden is the elegant Florida Flame Azalea, Rhododendron Austrinum. Drought tolerant, once established, this plant really lives up to its common name, because the blooms can be any shade of yellow or orange, or even a little of both–yes, the colors of a flame! As the name ‘Florida’ implies, the Florida Azalea is well able to tolerate any heat our Georgia climate can dish out.
Blooming at about the same time is our own native, the Piedmont Azalea, Rhododendron canescens. Beautiful pink blooms in late March or early April are exquisite.
If you love Alabama like I do, you’ll love the very rare Alabama Azalea, Rhododendron Alabamense, with its lovely white blooms coming a little later in spring. This plant is native to East Alabama, and is rarely seen in the wild anymore due to land development in that area. We’re fortunate to have a local grower with a love for native plants to propagate this delightful shrub. If you find it in the wild, please don’t try to dig it up to move to your own garden. Several varieties of the native azaleas are endangered plants, making it illegal to remove them from the wild.
Most native azaleas do not root easily, so they must be grown from seed! I admire the well-known Mr. Ernest Koone for having the patience to grow these beauties, because I do believe it’s important to preserve our native plants.
The native azaleas are becoming more and more difficult to find in nurseries, but can be purchased through mailorder. For more information on the different varieties currently available, check back regularly to read updated profiles of native azaleas with their bloom times and unique characteristics.
To purchase some of these rare plants, go to http://shadygardens.biz.

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