Azalea species :
Azalea Nudiflora :
Comonly known as Wild Honeysuckle, Pink azalea, Purple azalea or Pinxter Flower. A shrub, 2°-6° high, branched above, often simple below, the twigs glabrous, or with stiff hairs. Leaves oblong or obovate, acute at both ends, short-petioled, hairy on the midrib and sometimes on the lateral veins beneath, glabrous or with a few scattered hairs above when old, sometimes canescent on the lower surface when unfolding, 2-4′ long, the margins ciliolate; pedicels strigose, 4″-7″ long; flowers pink to nearly white, expanding before or with the leaves, faintly odorous, the limb somewhat 2-lipped, 1 1/2′ 2′ broad, shorter than the narrow tube, which is pilose-pubescent and little or not at all glandular; stamens much exserted; capsule linear-oblong, strigose, 8″-9″ long, erect. It is founf in dry sandy or rocky woods and thickets Massachusetts to Illinois, south to Florida and Texas. Ascends to 3000 ft. in Virginia. Reported from Canada and from Maine. Swamp or election-pink. Mayflower. Early, purple or swamp-honeysuckle. River-pink. April-May.
Azalea Canescens Michx. :
Commonly known as Mountain Azalea or Hoary Azalea. It is a branching shrub, 4°-15° high, the twigs glabrous or sparingly pubescent. Leaves oval, elliptic or sometimes obovate, wider and shorter than those of the preceding species, permanently more or less soft-canescent and pale beneath and stiff-hairy or pubescent on the veins, varying to nearly glabrous, the margins ciliolate-serrulate, pedicels glandular, flowers rose-color to white, very fragrant, expanding with or before the leaves; corolla limb often 2′ broad, about equalling the rather stout, densely glandular but scarcely viscid tube; stamens slightly exserted; capsule linear-oblong, glandular, 6″-8″ long. It is found in woods, New Hampshire, New York and Pennsylvania, south, especially along the Alleghanies, to Florida and to Louisiana. April-May.
Azalea Lutea :
Commonly known as Flame Azalea. It is a shrub, 4°-15° high, similar to the preceding species’, the twigs mostly glabrous. Leaves obovate or oval, permanently more or less canescent or tomentose beneath, glabrous, or with some scattered hairs above, the margins ciliolate-serrulate, pedicels short, pilose or glandular, flowers orange-yellow or red, very showy, slightly fragrant, expanding before or with the leaves; corolla-tube about the length of the nearly regular limb, glandular-pilose, the limb often 2′ broad, stamens long-exserted; capsule linear-oblong, about 8″ high, erect, more or less pubescent. It is found in dry woods, southern New York, and the mountains of Pennsylvania to Georgia and Tennessee, nearer the coast in North Carolina. Fine in cultivation. Yellow honeysuckle. May-June.
Azalea Arborescens Pursh :
Commonly known as Smooth Azalea or Tree Azalea. A shrub, 8°-20° high, glabrous or nearly so throughout. Leaves obovate, oblanceolate or oval, acute at both ends or sometimes abruptly acuminate at the apex, manifestly petioled, firm, bright green and shining above, light green beneath, 2′-4′ long, fragrant in drying, the margins ciliate, flowers white, or tinged with pink, very fragrant, the limb nearly regular, 1 1/2′-2′ broad, about as long as the slender glandular tube; pedicels short, glandular, stamens and style red long-exserted, capsule oblong, densely glandular, 6″-8″ long. It is found in woods, southern Pennsylvania to Georgia and eastern Tennessee. Ascends to 2500 ft. in North Carolina. Smooth honeysuckle. June-July.
Azalea Viscosa :
Commonly known as Swamp Pink Azalea, Honeysuckle or White Azalea. It is a shrub, 1°-8° high, usually much branched, the twigs hairy. Leaves obovate-oblong to oblanceolate, 1′-4′ long, very short-petioled, obtuse and mucronulate or acute at the apex, narrowed at the base, glabrous or with a few scattered hairs above, more or less bristly hairy on the veins beneath, ciliolate, green on both sides, or glaucous beneath; flowers white, or sometimes pink, fragrant, later than the leaves; pedicels glandular, or bristly-hispid; corolla 1 1/2-2′ long, the limb 1′-2′ broad, more or less 2-Hpped, much shorter than the slender, very viscid, densely glandular tube; capsule 5″-7″ high, glandular-bristly. It is found in swamps, Maine to Ohio, Arkansas. Florida and Texas. Consists of several races differing in pubescence, size and shape of leaves and color of flowers. Clammy azalea. Meadow-pink. White or clammy honeysuckle.
Azalea Pontica :
This species is a native of Asia Minor, and ordinarily grows from 3 to 6 feet high, with lanceolate soft hairy leaves and yellow or orange flowers sometimes tinged with red, glauca (white and fragrant), and many others. Especially what are called the Belgian varieties are very beautiful, but all are deciduous.
Azalea Indica :
Commonly known as Chinese Azalea. It is a strong growing plant, with long, coarse, evergreen leaves, producing white, light purple and red flowers marked with dark spots in clusters of three or more. This plant may be grown in great perfection, it is admirably adapted for a window plant.
Azalea Mollis :
Is also an important species of Azalea. They are somewhat similar in habit to the well-known Ghent Azaleas, and deciduous. The flowers are nearly as large as those of a hardy rhododendron, and stout and waxy in texture, the colors comprise red, yellow, salmon, primrose, white, and flesh color.
How to plant Azalea :
The soil best adapted for their growth is a peaty earth found on commons where heath abounds, of a light fibrous texture, and containing a good portion of sand. It should be pared off from three inches to four inches deep, the turves should be spread bottom upwards, and exposed to the sun during summer, and after having a few showers of rain upon it to restore it to a proper degree of moisture, it may be laid up in narrow ridges in the autumn; it can then be taken to the potting-shed as required. When used, it should be broken or separated with a trowel, and not sifted, rejecting the undecayed surface, and for the strong-growing varieties, to six-eighths of peat and one-eighth loam, and one-eighth silver sand.
The seed should then be sown regularly over the surface, and after being covered sufficiently deep with peat, again pressed down, so that, after being watered, the seed may remain buried. The pots should be placed on a shelf in the green-house, and shaded from the direct rays of the sun.
It is better that the seeds should vegetate by the increasing heat of the spring than by artificial means, since they will come up stronger, and are not so liable to damp off. They may be pricked out into other pots as soon as they have made two or three leaves, and as they advance in growth they may be potted into thumbs, or small sixties, in which they may remain in winter.
About the beginning of March those which are intended for specimens should be put into a house at a temperature of from 45° to 50°, where they will soon be excited to grow. If in sixty or forty sized pots, they should be shifted into sizes larger, but it is better to do this when the plants are in a growing state. They should then be shaded for a few days, and when the flower is shut up in the afternoon, gently syringed.
Many varieties will throw up three or four stems; the strongest should be selected for a leader. When growing, they should have plenty of air and light, without being exposed to a cold current, which is so frequently prejudicial to young plants in the spring, when clear sunshine and cold winds prevail. As they will be required to grow as late in the autumn as the weather will permit without applying fire-heat, and as it is not desirable that they should form flower-buds this season, those which want pot-room should be again shifted about the latter end of July. Great care should be taken that they are not over-potted, and that they have sufficient drainage; elevating the collar of the stem considerably, by rounding the upper side of the ball, but not so as to injure the tender and delicate fibres. The azalea is liable to canker from the water remaining too long about the collar; therefore, in watering, the spout of the pot should never be applied to it, as the cold current of water frequently repeated will check the flow of sap, and ultimately cause death. They should be placed at the back of the green-house during the winter, as near the glass as convenient, to ripen the wood.
Great care should betaken at all times to keep them free from insects, as they are liable to be attacked by a species of thrips, for which the best; remedy is a strong fumigation of tobacco. The varieties Variegata and Lateritia, are early excited in the spring; but are nevertheless the latest bloomers, they will make stronger and finer specimens by being inarched on the most robust stocks.
Azalea care :
The azaleas are easily cultivated, being very hardy, and form very attractive plants. They come in many colors and also striped, spotted, or otherwise variegated. They need a light soil of sandy loam, to which leaf-mold should be added. The foliage requires showering once a week, but the roots will rot if over watered. Flower stems form in the new wood of each summer’s growth, so that the amount of bloom is apt to depend upon the annual quantity of new wood. The plants are set out in May, and need to be taken up in early autumn. It is better to prune azaleas after they finished flowering, and then grown in a warm greenhouse temperature and well syringed in the morning and afternoon, in addition to giving fair supplies of water to the sandy and peaty compost in which they should be grown and firmly potted. In this way long clean shoots are made early in the year.