Azaleas in bloom

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Azaleas are ready to break forth in all their beauty just in time to welcome the change of seasons in Mississippi! Tourists by the thousands will be traveling to our part of the country this month just to see the glory of our Southern springtime and azaleas are center stage.
March is not only an opportunity to enjoy azaleas but also to add them to the landscape. What better time to make your selections than when you can see them in full color.
Azaleas are definitely not all the same. They come in various colors, sizes, flower types and season of bloom.
For instance, if a gardener would like azaleas that are low, mounding, dense shrubs there are many that fit the bill. In that case, we could begin with selections from the Kurume group with names like ‘Christmas Cheer’ (bright red), ‘Coral Bells’ (shell-pink), ‘Hinodegiri’ (bright carmine-red) ‘Pink Pearl’ (salmon), or ‘Snow’ (white). These bloom early to mid-season and will never get more than 2 to 4 feet tall.
They are excellent choices for Southern landscapes.
Another group of small, dwarf azaleas are the Satsuki Hybrids. These are very popular for their beauty and performance, size and season of bloom. Satsuki, in Japanese, means fifth month and that’s when these azaleas bloom. Including the Satsuki hybrids in the landscape means azaleas are blooming on into May! The most popular Satsuki hybrid is ‘Pink Gumpo’ which has large, rosy-pink flowers and a low, dense mass of small leaves. Other popular Satsuki hybrids include ‘Red Gumpo’ and ‘White Gumpo’. ‘Gyokushin’ is a beautiful selection featuring large white flowers with pink centers, low compact growth and excellent foliage.
A third group of smaller, dwarf type azaleas are the patented Encore Azaleas from Flowerwood Nursery in Mobile, Ala. The Encore azaleas have become much sought after for the double season of bloom. They begin to bloom as early as July, continue into the fall and re-bloom in the spring. Peak fall bloom is usually September. There are many different Encore azaleas with names like ‘Autumn Rouge’ (deep rosy pink), ‘Autumn Royalty’ (rich purple), ‘Autumn Coral’ (coral pink) and ‘Autumn Princess’ (bright pink). ‘Autumn Twist’ is white with purple stripes.
If larger azaleas are needed consider choosing a Glenn Dale Hybrid such as the very popular ‘Fashion’ (salmon to orange-red) or ‘Delaware Valley White’. These are very cold hardy and are more in the size range of 4 to 6 ft. tall. The largest growing azaleas are the Southern Indica or Indian Azaleas.
These will grow 8 to 10 feet tall and just as wide. They are excellent to use where they may grow unhindered as a screen, background, accent or landscape specimen. If shopping for Indian Azaleas consider the ‘Pride of Mobile’ or ‘Formosa’ for traditional deep pink or magenta colors or ‘George L. Taber’ for bluish pink blooms with lavender markings. Happy Gardening.

Eddie M. L. Smith, Ph.D.
Extension Agent/County Coordinator
Mississippi State University
Pearl River County Extension Service

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