Plant of the Season Azalea
These beautiful spring-flowering shrubs have been popular garden, and house, plants for many centuries. They are native to many parts of the world including North America, Asia, Europe, Japan and China.
Belonging to the genus Rhododendron there are two types — deciduous and evergreen. Deciduous azaleas can reach several feet in height and often have scented flowers and lovely autumn colour. The evergreen (or Japanese) azaleas are far smaller and much slower growing. There are now a huge variety of cultivars that come in many colours with the vibrant reds, purples and pinks being particularly popular.
Azaleas like acid soil that is moist and well drained. Incorporate plenty of organic matter when planting, feed after flowering and mulch. If you don’t have acid soil, evergreen azaleas do well in pots of loambased ericaceous compost. Water containers with rainwater as tapwater may be too limey. Frosts can cause damage to the plants so protect in the winter.