Azaleas & Rhododendrons

Azaleas and rhododendrons are a rite of spring parts of the United States where they are winter-hardy. Most of the selections here are native to the southern U.S. and Japan.

southgate-rhododendronYou can read about our interest in Southgate rhododendrons over here. The brief story is rhododendrons at lower elevations are not protected from the various problems that bedevil gardeners in the deep South who wish to grow rhododendrons successfully. (See the admittedly presumptuously titled 'Your Rhododendron Has Died. An Explanation' for more information as to the reasons behind the problems.)

In our third year of testing, so far the Southgate rhododendrons have done swell both in the pot and in the ground. The attached photo is one of this year's blooms. Each shrub is absolutely packed with flowers. Southgate rhododendrons thus far are highly recommended.

Azalea Amelia Rose was hybridized by retired professor Dr. Eugene Aromi and his wife Jane in Mobile, Alabama. Aptly named, Amelia Rose features 3"-4" double flowers that look like high-centered hybrid tea rose blooms. Once open, the flowers are somewhat reminiscent of camellias. Amelia Rose would be a seriously fine addition to any garden.

Aromi azalea Amelia Rose

Camellia? Hybrid Tea rose? No...it is the azalea Amelia Rose. Click for larger.

Photographs online vary widely in showing the coloration; we have done our best to reproduce the colors of the Amelia Rose azalea faithfully.

Continue reading ‘Aromi Azalea Amelia Rose’

The Southgate Rhododendrons were developed to survive the hot and humid gardens of the Deep South. Rhododendrons are mountain plants, and many gardeners who live in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain have the idea to grow rhododendrons in their own landscape. The garden centers contribute by filling their aisles with thousands of rhododendrons each spring.

Brandi Rhododendron

Southgate rhododendron Brandi. Click for larger.

The problem is rhododendrons are adapted to a different world than the backyard gardens of people who do not live in the Appalachian mountains. The Southgate rhododendrons are marketed as the answer. Brandi is the first in our test garden.

Continue reading ‘Southgate Rhododendron Brandi’

Formosa azalea is one of the triumvirate of Indica azaleas that rule the garden centers of the American south every spring. The other two are the white Mrs. G.G. Gerbing and the pink George L. Tabor (although at this point, the Belgian Indica azalea Pink Ruffles may be the finest of all).

formosa azalea

Formosa azalea appears pink in sunlight and lavender purple in deep shade. Click for larger.

Formosa Flower Color
Formosa's flower color has been described in a range from soft lavender to pink to magenta to purple. I would argue with none of these descriptions. Formosa is the most purple-colored Indica azalea to my eyes, although in sunlight the flower color does indeed favor lavendar-pink. I suspect this is why there are so many widely varying pictures of Formosa online.

I know this much: Formosa is difficult to photograph accurately. All of the magenta-toned flowers share this trait.

Continue reading ‘Formosa Azalea – Indica’

Midnight Flare azalea is a dark smoldering deep red azalea. The waxy red flowers are set off by dark lustrous green foliage. When I consider a plant for use in landscape design the primary considerations aesthetically are size, form, shape, and foliage.

Azalea Midnight Flare

Deep, dark red. Click for larger.

Blooms are important in the garden, but the flowers are with us only a short time. Other factors weigh heavier. I love Midnight Flare's red flowers, but I use Midnight Flare azaleas in garden design because of their beautiful foliage and form in the landscape.

Continue reading ‘Azalea Midnight Flare’

If Snow is the most popular white azalea grown today, Mrs. G.G. Gerbing, an old-school white Indica azalea, is not far behind. Mrs. G.G. Gerbing is a sport of the pink azalea George L. Tabor.

I worked at a plant store before going to college, and within 10 minutes of my first day on the job that first spring, I learned my first lesson about azaleas. There I stood surrounded by thousands of one gallon azaleas all the same size.

How big would each azalea variety grow? How large were their flowers?

The owner told me this: If you want to know how large an azalea will be at maturity, look at the leaves. Generally speaking, the larger the leaves, the larger the azalea will get. To a lesser degree, but still close enough, it is also true that the larger the leaves, the larger the flowers will be. So it is with the Indicas. G.G. Gerbing gets big - 8'-10' on mature specimens. The flowers are large as well, 3" of pure white goodness.

G.G. Gerbing Azalea

G.G. Gerbing azalea detail. Click for larger.


Continue reading ‘Mrs. G.G. Gerbing – Indica Azalea’

Like Coral Bells, the Snow azalea is one of the classics of the American spring garden. This Kurume variety has one significant drawback (more on those faded flowers later).

Snow Azalea

Snow azalea in the garden. Click for larger.

I love the Snow azalea. Covered with small, pure white blooms that explode out of the landscape, especially in shadier areas or late in the day, Snow is a beacon. Growing 3'-5' tall and wide over the years, Snow has a loosely rounded shape that features smallish dark green leaves and hose-on-hose white blooms without peer for complete coverage of a garden shrub.

snow azalea in bloom

Snow azalea in bloom. Click for larger.

Continue reading ‘Snow Azalea – Classic Kurume’

Primitive Beauty Azalea has pristine white flowers of notable form. This somewhat rare Indica azalea is highly recommended for southern gardeners.

I love Snow and Coral Bells azaleas as much as the next guy, but tend to admire them in other people's gardens. There is only so much space in one's own garden after all. Primitive Beauty azalea is mysterious, ethereal, and well-named. If there was an azalea of the paleolithic era, Primitive Beauty would be the one.

Primitive Beauty Azalea

Primitive Beauty Azalea is a hybrid Indica. Click for larger.

What is striking about Primitive Beauty are the flowers, white strap-like blooms similar in form to Koromo Shikibu, a lavender azalea more widely known.

Continue reading ‘Primitive Beauty Azalea’