Azaleas are very elegant and colorful flowers commonly used to adorn gardens and terraces. They are often given as gifts for parties and special occasions. One of the occasions for which azaleas are commonly given is Mother’s Day. Today, more specifically, this flower has become a symbol of the fight against female cancers and is sold in thousands of squares every year to raise funds for cancer research.
Azaleas are delicate, feminine, and ethereal flowers, but also resilient, durable, and showy. Let’s see below the biological identification of this flower. Additionally, we’ll take a look at other related information and curiosities.
Biological Identification of Azaleas
The places of origin of azaleas are mainly Eurasia and America. For this reason, there are numerous species, each with its own characteristics. The family to which they belong is the Ericaceae, while the genus of plants is Rhododendron (from the Greek ῥόδον, rose, and δένδρον, tree). Among the subgenera of this flowering plant, some are evergreen, such as Tsutsuji, and others have a normal seasonal regeneration cycle. Azaleas bloom in spring and are a real visual spectacle. The number of flowers is extremely high, and their shape is always different. There are specimens with flowers composed of many petals (for example, 5, 12, or even more than 30). In the latter case, there are very abundant blooms that make the plant very visible. Even the leaves can have very different sizes, ranging from an average of 5 to 18 cm.
How to Cultivate Azaleas at Home
Azaleas are plants of rather small dimensions; therefore, besides outdoors, it is possible to think of cultivating them indoors. Caring for azaleas is not very difficult; therefore, even those without a ‘green thumb’ should not have problems. During the development of these plants, as we have already said, there is a very abundant flowering. For this reason, it is necessary to place the bush in medium or large-sized pots, which have drainage holes at the bottom (like these). This operation is necessary because bushy plants, being very dense, need spaces that are not too cramped. To cultivate an azalea, you can use any soil; however, a mix of 50% peat and 50% sandy soil is advisable. This plant prefers shaded and humid places, so it is good to avoid direct exposure to daylight. The propagation of the azalea can be done either by seeds or by cuttings. The first option is decidedly discouraged because it guarantees less chance of success than the second. For the correct maintenance of an azalea plant, it is necessary to periodically remove the flowers and dry branches. Also, it is good to check the size of the specimen and, if necessary, replace the pot. Finally, it is necessary to avoid watering the soil too much and ensure that the water is always well-drained.
Azaleas: Common Pests and Diseases and How to Combat Them
Like any other plant, azaleas are not immune to various pests and diseases. These shrubs can be attacked by red spiders and aphids, which cause the decline of foliage and flowers, or fungi that entirely cover the surface of the leaves and result in yellowing. For the resolution of these issues, we refer you to specific articles. In the case of pests, however, it may be sufficient to prune the compromised flowers, leaves, or twigs. Finally, azaleas can suffer from iron chlorosis, leading to the death of the plant. To prevent this from happening, plants need a type of soil with a subacidic pH.