The azalea is a plant belonging to the family Ericaceae. They are shrubs of flowers cultivated for centuries throughout the world, for which more than a thousand wild varieties of azaleas are known so far. Also, the species is ideal for ornamental use, since it is propagated by cutting and seeds.
Do you want to know more about how to care for an azalea? Here, at oneHOWTO, we show you all the details about its characteristics, care and cultivation.
Characteristics of the azalea plant
This plant is a small bush with oval, hairy and leathery leaves. It belongs to the genus Rhododendron, of which 2 subgenres are known so far: Pentanthera (deciduous) and Tsutsusi (perennial).
Its size varies according to the species. While some do not exceed 20 centimeters, others can measure an average of 12 meters in height (Rhododendron arboreum), although there have been specimens up to 20 meters high. This happens because the azalea has been commercialized throughout the world, for which there are more than a thousand wild varieties and more than 10 thousand hybridizations.
The azalea flowers They are 5 stamens and grow in a spiral. Each flower usually has a cup with 5 sepals, while its corolla has the same number of petals. However, double-flowering shrubs can be found, in which the petals are more numerous.
The azalea flower shows shades ranging from pale pink to carmine red. However, despite its beauty, the flower is extremely toxic to humans. Both in pollen and nectar, the flowers of azaleas produce grayanotoxin, a poisonous toxin, so avoid its consumption and watch out for children and pets that are nearby.
The reduced dimensions of the most commercialized azalea make it an ideal plant to grow in pots. Likewise, they usually bloom during the fall and winter and during Christmas, in the northern hemisphere, they show their best color.
Types of azaleas
Apart from the above, there are more types and varieties of azaleas, depending on the color of their flowers and other aspects of hybridizations:
- White azalea (Rhododendron Pleasant White)
- Mountain azalea (Rhododendron ferrugineum)
- Pink azalea (Rhododendron Blaauw’s Pink)
- Azalea japonica (Rhododendron Girard)
Azalea care: a basic guide
The azalea plant is ideal for cold and temperate climates. Between the azalea care more basic we can highlight the following recommendations:
Compost and soil
The key to keeping your azalea plant in good condition is to use proper watering, pruning, and compost. Acidic soil is ideal for its conservation. Here you can learn How to make natural compost for plants and you can apply it every few months in the soil of the azalea and put it more often when the flowering arrives. The azalea plant requires loose soil to stay oxygenated and hydrated. Also, it is necessary that the pot of the plant drains properly.
If the roots occupy the entire available space in the pot, it is necessary to transplant it. In this video we show you the basic steps on How to transplant a plant.
Watering the azaleas
An advisable way to water the azalea is to immerse the roots in a dish of rainwater (not too cold) for 10 minutes. When kept in pots, they must have enough holes to avoid the accumulation of water. That would cause the roots to rot. However, the plant requires constant humidity and copious watering during its flowering.
Location, light, temperature and humidity
The first point that you must take into account when caring for an azalea is the light and the location. This plant requires constant humidity in its roots but not waterlogging, which is why it is recommended to plant it in ventilated places. Azaleas are outdoor plants, but if you decide to place it indoors, you should place it in an area with a lot of light, but that the sun does not come directly or for many hours in a row, since this can cause its flowers to soon wither or change color. Thus, due to its characteristics, the azalea outside is preferable to be located in a semi-shady place.
The ideal temperature for an azalea is between 10ºC and 20ºC. In case you live in a very cold or very hot place, during times of more extreme temperatures it is preferable that you place it indoors, but avoiding areas near heating and air conditioning. It is recommended that you use a humidifier to maintain the humidity of the room where you have the plant.
Reproduction and étime to plant azaleas
The multiplication of this plant is by germinated seeds during the year, although its commercialization occurs mainly through the sowing of segments. Fall is the ideal time to plant azaleas, although it can be planted without problems throughout the year.
In this other oneHOWTO article you can learn more about When the azalea is planted.
Spring is the ideal time to prune the azalea plant. To do it correctly, it is necessary to apply oblique cuts on branches that are too extensive and tufts of leaves and areas where the leaves are yellow or diseased.
Growing azalea: tips for indoors and outdoors
Azalea can be grown indoors and outdoors without problems, being an ornamental plant par excellence. Here we give you some tips for its cultivation:
- Outdoor cultivation: when the plant is outdoors it requires a cool place, mostly in the shade. Raised beds will help its growth in clay or highly saline soils.
- Indoor cultivation: indoors, on the other hand, it is necessary to keep it in humid areas, near windows, but not directly exposed to the sun. The ideal temperature for its growth in pots is 10ºC to 16ºC.
Between spring and summer, outdoor gardens are the best option. In autumn and winter, on the other hand, it will flourish without problems inside the home. Keeping it out of direct sunlight will help it flourish in all its glory.
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