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Azaleas

Splash the garden with color

Azaleas

Azaleas (Rhododendron) are the ideal bush for nearly any setting. These hardy and beautiful plants add a splash of color to shady spots, and are ideal for borders, foundation plantings or as stand-alone shrubs.

Planting azalea bushes is a great way to bring resilient color to your perennial garden.

Do azaleas come back year after year?

Most of our azaleas are hardy perennial shrubs, and can be counted upon to come back year after year. However, not all azaleas are cold-hardy, and some will not survive in the ground over a freezing winter. Those azaleas tend to be planted as annuals in northern climates, and as perennials in warm zones. The advent of hardy azaleas has truly expanded the uses for these beautiful, shrubby plants. Look for terms like, "hardy azalea" and check the zone recommendations. Most woody azaleas are hardy perennials, and we love the attractive look of their bark, too.

How fast do azaleas grow?

Azaleas are relatively slow growers, so you won't be immediately overtaken by large azalea bushes. Most azaleas take six to seven years to reach their full height, often growing up to ten feet tall. However, potted azaleas have typically already started their growth, so they could reach their maximum height in just a few years. Check your individual cultivar for more information.

What time of year do you plant azalea bushes?

Azalea bushes should be planted in spring. If you're growing azaleas from potted plants, wait until a month or so before the final frost date to set them into the ground. You don't want them to be damaged by late frosts, but setting them in the ground before the heat of summer will allow them to put down roots before growing begins in earnest.

Do azalea bushes need full sun?

For maximum bloom power, azaleas need a good amount of sun-at least four to six hours per day. For most of the country, we recommend planting your azaleas in full sun to partial shade. However, these delicate blooms may become burnt in hot sunlight. If you're gardening in Zone 8 or 9, try to site your azaleas in a location that receives afternoon shade. Azaleas can also benefit from a little wind protection, making them perfect plants to place alongside fences.

What is the most hardy azalea?

Hardy azaleas last through the winter, even in places where temperatures drop below freezing. Most hardy azaleas feature woody branches and dark, sturdy leaves, indicating a bit more ruggedness than tropical azaleas. Breeders across the northern United States rely on a few genetic lines to support cold-hardy azaleas. One classic set of hardy azaleas is the "Lights" series, such as Northern Lights, Western Lights, and Mandarin Lights. These azaleas were bred in Minnesota to withstand harsh winters, and even stand up to winds. However, a variety of hardy azaleas is now available on the market. These aren't your grandmother's plants-they'll stand up to freezing temperatures and come back year after year to provide beautiful flowers and outstanding performance.

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