Table of contents:
- Azalea varieties
- Azalea care
- Azalea transplant
- Azalea propagation
- Problems of growing azaleas
- Azalea pests
Heather family. Azalea (Rhododendron) is a flowering shrub in the form of low-stemmed plants with a spreading crown, they are grown in a pot culture and as garden plants.
- Azalea varieties
- Azalea care
- Azalea problems
- Azalea pests
Historically, azaleas grow in India and China, in the mountainous regions of the Caucasus and Siberia, as well as in the southern states of the United States. The genus of rhododendrons is very extensive, it includes evergreen, semi-deciduous and deciduous species, mostly bushy, but there are also ampelous and pyramidal forms of rhododendrons, there are more than 1000 species in total. One of the parents of modern hybrid varieties of indoor azaleas is Rhododendron Sims Rhododendron simsii or Indian azalea (synonym for Rhododendron indicu), Japanese Rhododendron Rhododendron (azalea) japonica.
Azalea (rhododendron) is a well-branched shrub, leaves are alternate, sessile or on short petioles, obovate, flowers are collected in racemose inflorescences, rarely single. The flowers are bisexual - they have both stamens and a pistil in one flower, pollinated by insects. The fruit is a polyspermous capsule.
Currently, from a taxonomic point of view, the name Azalea Azalea is outdated. And it is correct to call all these plants Rhododendrons, including those that are grown at home. But the beautiful name Azalea has stuck so well that even flower suppliers often sell them under the old name. However, some experts (for example, Brian Johnston, Canada) distinguish potted azaleas into a separate group in the genus of rhododendrons, based on the formation of flowers. So, on rhododendrons, flowers are formed in multi-flowered brushes. During flowering, the shrub is so abundantly covered with flowers that the green leaves are almost invisible. At the same time, indoor hybrid rhododendrons - which we call Azaleas - have, as a rule, single flowers. Those.differ from all other rhododendrons precisely by the presence of one or two flowers on a branch (terminal flowers). In addition, azaleas have a much smaller bush (undersized), smaller leaves, and flowers too. For example, in species rhododendrons (and garden forms), the leaves can reach a length of 10-15 cm or more, in azaleas grown at home, usually no more than 4-5 cm (much larger in the garden).
Rhododendron Sims or Indian Azalea
The selection of Rhododendrons has been intensively carried out for two hundred years, and the result of such work has become the presence in the gardens of greenhouses of the world about 10,000 different varieties. Among Azaleas, as well as true Rhododendrons, there are deciduous and evergreen varieties. Among the evergreen Azaleas, hybrids of interest are: Dutch selection (Kaempferi hybrids and Vuykiana hybrids); Pennsylvania hybrids (Gable hybrids by Joseph B. Gable - among them there are amazing azaleas with flowers just like a rose), in general, Pennsylvania is famous for collectors and breeders of rhododendrons and azaleas; Japanese hybrids (Satsuki hybrids - among them varieties have been created specially grown as bonsai, Kurume hybrids, etc.)
It is not always possible to determine the azalea variety in such a multi-thousand-strong variety, here are some of the most popular of them:
Azalea "Rosebud" Gable hybrid
Azalea "Miyun no tsuki" Satsuki hybrid
Azalea "Snow" Kurume hybrids
Azalea "Kiev waltz"
Azalea "Ernst Thiers"
Azalea "Pink Pearl"
Azalea "Saxon star"
Azalea " Coelestina"
Rhododendron Simsa or Indian Azalea (and all hybrids) is a rather capricious plant, you need to water it especially carefully, adhere to the optimal temperature of the content, carefully select and prepare the soil, maintain optimal air humidity. Consider how to care for an azalea.
In summer, the usual temperature for the house, but on hot days, when the temperature is above 28 ° C, it is advisable to move the pot of azalea to a cooler place (for example, from the windowsill to the floor). In winter, azaleas are kept in cool conditions (the optimum temperature is 10-15 ° C). It is advisable in the fall, during the period of flower buds, to maintain the temperature at about 6-8 ° C, and then, two months later, by the time of flowering, increase to 12-15 ° C.
Azalea flowering stimulation
Different varieties of azaleas bloom at different times of the year in winter, spring, summer or fall. Many of them have a pronounced dormant period, with a decrease in temperature in autumn and a decrease in daylight hours. But it is the cool temperature that contributes to the laying of flower buds, and it is not necessary to withstand 2 or 3 months in the cold, it is enough to create a contrasting temperature difference: night and day with a difference of about 7-8 ° C. Those. enough when the day is 22 ° C, at night 16 ° C. Sharper jumps and fluctuations in temperature lead to stress.
Spring pruning and root pruning during transplantation also stimulates flowering of azaleas.
Bright light, direct sunlight is allowed for azaleas only in the morning or evening. Without shading, rhododendron grows well on the eastern windowsill, northwest, worse on the north (there is still little light). It is too hot on the south and west window of the azalea, it is necessary to shade from 11 to 17 hours. These rules apply only to the spring-summer season - from about January to August. From autumn to mid-winter, azaleas are not afraid even of the midday sun, if you live in central Russia or in the northern regions - since the sun does not spoil us with frequent appearances during this period and rises too low to leave burns. Thus, the autumn-winter sun does not threaten the azaleas.
Indian azalea and hybrids based on it, which you can buy in stores, are quite photophilous, even in winter they prefer long daylight hours, at least 10 hours. Therefore, if your house windows face the shady side, you will need additional lighting. To do this, you can use fluorescent or LED lamps, hanging them above the plant at a distance of 5-10 cm from above or from the side.
The soil of the azaleas should be slightly moist inside the root ball at all times, but not overly moist. From overdrying, azaleas lose not only flowers, but also leaves. Azalea is one of the few indoor plants that very poorly tolerates both excessive dampness and complete dryness of the earth. It is also necessary to navigate with the frequency of watering by temperature, like this: when it is hot (24-28 ° C) the ground on the surface has dried up, you can water it. When it is cooler - about 20-24 ° C, as the ground on the surface has dried up, wait one day or a little longer and then water. If the temperature is about 15-18 ° C, after the ground has dried on top, wait another 3-4 days until the next time.
You can also navigate with watering according to the degree of lightness of the pot. Just remember what it is approximately by weight when the soil is dry and each time dry to about the same lightness.
The fibrous thin roots of azaleas easily rot from overflow, and complete drying out very quickly leads to the death of the plant. This should be especially taken into account when growing azaleas as bonsai and potensai. So that the soil in small pots does not dry out quickly, especially in the heat of summer, cover it with moss (forest or sphagnum) or sprinkle it with fine gravel. But in this case, drainage to the bottom and large holes in the pot must be required! If it gets colder, on the contrary, remove the moss from the soil surface so that it dries out faster.
Azaleas need to be watered only with soft water, without chlorine and fluoride. If your area has a high content of fluoride, azalea may suffer from brown leaves for no apparent reason. If the water is hard, use boiled water with a few drops of lemon juice, or 2 grains of citric acid per liter of water.
Azalea loves moist air, the optimal indicator is in the range of 50-70%. Spray it only with soft, settled or boiled water. During flowering, they are sprayed with a very fine spray bottle. drops may cause spots on the petals. You can also place the azalea pots on a tray of wet pebbles or moss. In general, the need for an azalea for moist air is much higher than for abundant watering. And frequent watering does not compensate for the lack of relative humidity. The only periods when you can forget about spraying are the off-season, when the heating was turned off at home (at the end of spring) until hot summer days and, when they had not yet turned on, from late August to mid-October. Due to precipitation, humidity at this time is naturally kept at an optimal level.
Fertilizing and fertilizing azaleas
Indoor azaleas can be fertilized from April to September (or at other times of the year with very good lighting). They are fed once every three weeks with a special fertilizer for rhododendrons. You can also use fertilizers for decorative flowering plants, for example, Fertika Lux, or others, if they do not have an alkaline reaction.
Adult blooming azaleas can be pruned every spring in order to slightly reduce the growing crown, to increase the number of future flower branches. After flowering, all shoots of the last year are shortened and strongly regrown or elongated shoots are shortened, branches are thinly thinned, and weak growth is removed. Old specimens are rejuvenated by short pruning and then planting them in the ground for the summer. Azaleas with falling leaves during the dormant period are kept in a cool and dark basement.
Such a root system does not need to be destroyed, it can only be carefully trimmed.
If the azalea has undergone serious crown pruning, it is advisable to carry out root pruning at the same time in order to balance the tops and roots in volume. Remove the azalea from the pot, cut the bottom of the root ball with a sharp knife horizontally (about 2 cm), remove a layer of soil 1-2 cm from above.Do not touch the root ball (inside), but put it back in the previous pot (or the same size), having filled up with fresh earth. After a similar procedure, water with zircon (1-2 drops per 1 liter of water).
It is necessary to transplant the azalea at the very beginning of the growing season, when the buds of new young leaves appear. Can also be replanted after purchase when flowering is over. Azaleas have a superficial root system, so the pots for them should not be too deep, but rather wide, but taking into account drainage, preferably 2-3 cm high.
Azalea soil is nutritious, porous, rather acidic. The optimum pH value is 5-5.5 or in the range from 4.5 to 6. The best soil for azaleas is coniferous soil, which is used without special preparation, pH 4.5-6.0. If you collect land somewhere in nature yourself, then you can take it in a mixed undergrowth, where both birches and pines grow, but peat soil is also suitable. Azalea does not tolerate heavy loam, and soil taken in areas where oak trees grow. Pieces of pine bark (they acidify) and coconut substrate (it may be neutral) can be added to the soil for azaleas.
There are many ready-made potting mixes on the market. What soil for azalea to choose? Only from trusted manufacturers, for example, soils from "Fasco" and "Sad" have repeatedly been found to be inconsistent with the composition (St. Petersburg expertise for 2013). From store-bought soils for azaleas, you can recommend:
Garden of Wonders Azalea (Fart CJSC): Nitrogen (NH4 + NO3) - 100, Phosphorus (P2O5) - 180, Potassium (K2O) - 180, pH 4.0-4.5
Ground Ambulance For azaleas: Nitrogen (NH4 + NO3) - 100, Phosphorus (P2O5) - 150, Potassium (K2O) - 250, pH 5.5-6.5
Flower paradise For azalea, heather, rhododendron (JSC BHZ): Nitrogen - 75, Phosphorus - 75, Potassium - 125, Magnesium - 70, pH 3.5-5.0
For azalea and heather (Seliger-Holding): Nitrogen 60-120, Phosphorus 60-120, Potassium 120-240, pH 4.2-4.5
Usually azaleas are propagated by cuttings, although this presents some difficulties. The cuttings are cut off after flowering, they are not taken green, but beginning to be slightly covered with brown, not yet bark, but a thin crust, i.e. semi-lignified. The cuttings are rooted in the ground, use peat with sand or leafy soil. You can add half of the vermiculite to the substrate. In water, cuttings root poorly, often rot. Remove the lower leaves from the cut cutting, leaving 3-4 leaves at the top, it is advisable to dip the tip into the root or heteroauxin and immerse it in the ground, no more than 2 cm deep. It is possible in advance, before planting, to keep the cutting for 16-18 hours in a solution of heteroauxin at a temperature of about 22 ° C in a dark place.
The planted cutting should root at a temperature of 22-24 ° C and a humidity of about 60-70%, so you can cover it with a plastic bottle cap or put it in a bag. You need to regularly moisten the soil and ventilate so that it does not become moldy. A sign that the stalk is rooted is the appearance of new leaves.
Azalea care also consists in the timely removal of wilted flowers, thinning the crown. Maintaining the beautiful shape of the bush is carried out by pinching and pruning. Pinch for better branching in early spring, with a new growth. It is possible to cut off dramatically the shoots of azaleas after flowering, or if the lower part of the stems is exposed from violations of the conditions of detention. Do not break off the branches, just cut them to the desired length with scissors. It is not necessary to sprinkle or lubricate the sections
Problems of growing azaleas
Azalea has a short flowering period: when the plant is too hot and the air is too dry. Place the pot as far away from the central heating radiators as possible, and spray the leaves daily. Too bright sunlight and insufficient watering can also cause premature end of flowering.
Azalea leaves turn yellow: excessive dampness, hard water, alkalization of the soil (hard or chlorinated water), iron is not absorbed (chlorosis of the leaves).
Poor growth, browning of the lower leaves, few buds or no flowering can be attributed to planting azaleas in inappropriate soil.
Why does azalea get sick after purchase?
Seeing a pot of blooming azaleas in a store, some people find it difficult to resist and not buy it. But many do not know that azaleas will not be able to grow and bloom in normal home conditions (some features of the varieties). They will need to provide a cool and humid atmosphere. You can place pots with azaleas between the window frames, it is much cooler there, but you will have to regularly monitor the thermometer so that it does not drop below 8 ° C at the time of budding, and during flowering it was about 13 ° C.
Azalea dried out, leaves wilted
The problem with azaleas after purchase is also that the frequent change of care conditions for them is a lot of stress (changes in temperature and irrigation regime in greenhouses, then in the store and at our home). Therefore, azaleas, which were bought immediately after entering the store, take root better, they simply will not have time to stand on dark shelves or rot from diligent watering. Although, according to the statistics of some flower shops, the "survival" of azaleas after purchase is about 45-50%, ie. almost only every second plant will take root and bloom. Therefore, in order for this plant to bloom and delight you, try to provide it with decent living conditions.
Scales and false scutes: sometimes brown plaques can be seen on the surface of leaves and stems, scabbards suck out cell sap. Leaves lose color, dry out and fall off. Control measures. For mechanical cleaning of pests, the leaves are wiped with a soapy sponge. Then water the soil in the pot with the systemic insecticide Aktara or Confidor. In the absence of these drugs, you can spray with 0.15% actellic solution (1-2 ml per liter of water).
Spider mite: appears when the air is too dry - a cobweb appears in the internodes on the stems, it becomes noticeable already with a strong defeat. The leaves become lethargic, punctures are visible in the lumen. Control measures. Wipe the plant with a soapy sponge and wash it under a warm shower. Maintain high air humidity. To destroy pests, they are sprayed with acaricides (for example, the drug Apollo).
Mealybugs: small, white, hairy pests infect leaves, shoots and flowers, often accumulate in the root zone or internodes. The leaves bend, dry and fall off, the plant dies. Control measures. Wash off pests with a soapy sponge and under a warm shower. Water the soil with a systemic insecticide (aktara, confidor).
Azalea Frequently Asked Questions
Propagation of azaleas by cuttings