Azalea is a group of plant species that were once classified as a separate genus in the Ericaceae family and now belong to the Rhododendron genus of the same family. It is quite extensive - it unites about 800 species of trees and shrubs. Azalea, which has won the love of many thousands of people thanks to the unique decorative nature of its flowering, is a dwarf shrub with a height of only 25-50 centimeters, so in reality it would be quite difficult for the heroes of the famous song by Vladimir Vysotsky to sit in a circle under it.
Many varieties of potted Azaleas are known and widespread. Almost all or completely all of them rely in their history on two separate types (the first - most often):
— Rhododendron obtusum (Latin: Rhododendron obtusum), also called Japanese azalea, as well as Rhododendron obtusum.
— Rhododendron Sims (lat.Rhododendron simsii), also called Indian azalea, as well as Sims’s azalea;
The beautiful flowers of Azaleas are not usually large in size, but they are arranged quite densely, and the magnificent picture of flowering can delight the eye for a long time (November-May). It is worth noting that the bush becomes more magnificent if it is weaker.
Secrets of proper cultivation of Azaleas
From the above, the importance of timely pruning of the plant is clear. It follows already in May, immediately after the end of flowering. Shoots are removed (most of the ruthless attention should be given to those that “look” into the room):
- all overgrown greatly;
- all weak;
- all faded;
- and small young ones appearing near the flower buds.
Young shoots that you decide not to destroy must be pinched, leaving 4 to 6 leaves on each. If you want to get more buds, monitor and remove any terminal buds throughout the year. Pruning should be combined with replanting (read about it below).
There are other factors that contribute to the full development and long-term flowering of Azalea:
a) relatively low ambient temperatures (in summer the most favorable temperature is 17-22°C, and in winter - 11-16°C);
b) abundant watering. During active growth, from March to September, water every other day. In the process of flowering - even more abundantly and often;
c) suitable relative air humidity is determined by frequent spraying (the “potted beauty” loves them very much), however, during the flowering process, the best option would be to significantly reduce the intensity of such procedures or even completely eliminate them;
d) fertilizing with a whole complex of fertilizers (without chlorine!) in spring and summer every 3-2 weeks. During the budding period, you must not forget to provide the plant with a superphosphate solution twice (15 grams of solution per 10 liters of dechlorinated water);
e) sufficiently bright lighting. Direct sunlight is contraindicated for Azalea, and the light can be diffused - the room itself must certainly remain bright;
Transplantation is performed once every 3-2 years after the end of the flowering process. This “exotic little thing” called Azalea likes acidic soil (this preference is not typical of all indoor plants). Heather soil is best suited (although its nutritional value is less than leaf soil). If this is not available, it is permissible to replace it with a mixture of peat and coniferous soil (in a ratio of 1:2), adding a little clean fine river sand. Since the root system of Azalea is characterized by superficiality and tenderness, the pot must be flat (low and wide), and the actual transplantation is carried out by carefully transferring it from the old one into a new container.
Azaleas are propagated by semi-lignified cuttings, starting from May-June and ending in August: they are planted directly in coniferous soil (or in a mixture of it with river sand and peat) and covered with transparent polyethylene or glass, constantly lifting it for the purpose of regular spraying to ensure constant high level of relative humidity (at least 80%). Watering at the same time should be regular. In this case, the temperature must be maintained at 25°C. If all the specified conditions are met, the cuttings will take root in about two months.
- The poor condition of the plant is usually caused by errors in care.
- Falling and wrinkling of leaves directly indicates insufficient watering.
- Falling leaves without wrinkling is a signal of excessive waterlogging of the soil.
- Flowering ends quickly - therefore, the air surrounding the plant is too dry.
Main living pests:
- azalea aphid, which consumes plant juices as food, is dangerous for its sugary secretions, the so-called honeydew, and uses sooty fungus (lat. Capnopodium) for its own reproduction, as a result of which black sticky areas become visible on parts of the plant.
- red spider mite (lat.Tetranychus cinnabarinus), which feeds on cell sap, as a result of which the leaves lose their usual green color, become first gray and then brown;Be prudent and attentive! Azalea flowers, which are properly cared for, always decorate the life of their owners, providing them with positive emotions.