Everyone who witnessed azaleas in bloom with their own eyes knows that it is impossible to look away from an amazing spectacle. Magnificent hats of snow-white, pink and lilac, yellow and red shades amaze imagination. Therefore, more and more gardeners are interested in varieties and species of this perennial plant.
Out of six hundred wild species of azaleas and rhododendrons, only a few are grown in garden and pot plants.
And all the variety and richness of colors are innumerable thousands of hybrids and varieties obtained from the crossing of evergreen and deciduous plants found in America, Europe and Asia.
At home and in the garden, representatives of two species can most often be found:
- Rhododendron Simsii or Indian azalea( A. indica);
- Rhododendron obtusum or Japanese azalea( A. Japonica).
But today other types of ornamental plants are actively used in breeding work. As a result, azaleas with an unusual shape of flowers or color of halos unprecedented in nature were obtained. Descriptions and photos of azaleas, their species and varieties will help to understand the diversity of the world of rhododendrons and find plants to their liking.
Japanese Azalea( Rhododendron obfusum)
Blunt rhododendron shrubs or Japanese azaleas are used in indoor floriculture, decorated with greenhouses and gardens. At home, plants of this species barely reach 60 cm in height, often in adulthood they take the form of a dense cushion, which is completely covered with open flowers and buds during flowering.
In appearance and size of flowers, this type of azalea is inferior to many related varieties, but due to their abundant blooms and unpretentious temper is grown in many countries. Today, gardeners have at their disposal several thousand luxurious varieties of Japanese azalea and its hybrids with other representatives of a vast genus.
After flowering at home, the Japanese azalea can successfully be in the garden right up to the cold. As easily as temperature fluctuations, plants simply tolerate pruning and shaping. Therefore, in the homeland of the species, in Japan, as well as in other parts of the world, the standard azalea, made in the form of traditional oriental bonsai or European trees in the style of a regular park, became popular.
Azalea Japanese Melina
The variety of Japanese azalea "Melina" cannot be overlooked due to the bright carmine color of flowers with rims up to 4-5.5 cm in diameter. The edges of the petals that fill the entire volume of the flower are beautifully twisted. Flowering is abundant, almost completely hiding bluish foliage. The plant is compact, at 10 years of age, its height does not exceed 30 cm with a diameter of 50–60 cm.
Japanese Azalea Kermesina Alba
Like Melina, just as attractive white azalea of the variety Kermesina Alba. Its flowers are smaller in diameter, but because of their number, the branches seem to be completely covered with gentle, fragrant snow.
There are many reliable, proven varieties among Japanese azaleas. In addition, the species is actively used to obtain new, sometimes very original interspecific hybrids.
Indian Azalea( Rhododendron simsii)
The varieties obtained through the use of Indian azalea or Sims rhododendron became the basis for the work of many breeders and amateur growers.
In terms of the room, due to the restriction of the root system and regular pruning, these shrubs, like the Japanese azalea, are compact and small. Usually they can be contained within 40–60 cm. But in the garden, the indica azalea reaches a height of one and a half meters and above. And there are plants with different timing of flowering, shape, color and size of corolla.
Compared to the Japanese variety in Indian azalea, flowers are larger and more decorative.
Motley variegated varieties with contrasting marks in the center of the corolla or the original border on its edge. An example of such a variety of azaleas can be considered the plant Stella Maris with white flowers, decorated with raspberry spray on the upper petals.
Azalea flowers are double or simple, with corrugated or smooth edges.
Azalea of the Albert-Elizabeth variety is distinguished by large, up to 8.5 cm in diameter, double flowers with a wide carmine border and wavy edges of the petals. Plants begin to bloom very early, practically opening the season of azaleas in the house and in the garden.
Despite the abundance of azalea varieties of indica, among them there are rarely yellow or orange flowers, and there are no plants with blue and purple corolla.
Azalea Knap Hill
An extensive group of hybrid plants, called the Knap Hill Hybrid, appeared due to the crossing of several wild species of azaleas, including the Japanese variety, as well as plants originating from America.
The start of breeding work, which gave the world of flower growers many luxurious plants, was laid in the XIX century in the legendary British nursery Knap Hill Nursery. He then gave the name to the Azalea mixes obtained by E. Warerer.
Part of seedlings of new hybrids was acquired by the famous billionaire collector and gardener Lionel Rothschild. The plants were transported to Hampshire and here, in the estate of Baron Exbury, work on the cultivation of previously unseen varieties of azaleas continued. As a result, the world received amazingly bright flowers not only of traditional white and pink tones, but also of yellow shades.
In place of the old estate, there is still a luxurious garden with deciduous azaleas shrubs, 1.5 meters high. Flowers have different colors and sizes; some specimens strike even with a 10-centimeter corolla.
Many Knap Hill azaleas produce a delicate aroma, and most easily tolerate frosts up to 23 ° C and even up to 30 ° C.
Unfortunately, it was not possible to save all the hybrid azaleas from the old English group. Many are irretrievably lost, but the remaining plants became the basis for modern breeding work.
Azalea Golden Eagle( Rhododendron Golden Eagle)
Winter-hardy deciduous azalea obtained from crossing Rhododendron calendulaceum and reaching an adult height of 1.8 meters. The plant with a wide rounded crown perfectly acclimatizes in the middle zone and annually pleases the gardener with the appearance of a mass of yellow-orange semi-double flowers with a diameter of 6 cm. The flowers of this variety azaleas form inflorescences of 6–12 pieces and do not fall from 3 to 9 weeks.
Azalea Knap Hill Sylphides
This deciduous azalea variety also belongs to the Knap Hill Hybrid family and is considered one of the most cold-resistant in the world. Plants resist frosts down to –32 ° C and in the spring reveal 8–14 large funnel-shaped flowers on each shoot. The background color of the rims is white-pink, in the middle - a bright yellow spot. This variety of azaleas has no pronounced flavor. Mass flowering occurs in May and June. An adult shrub has a dense spherical crown up to 120 cm high.
Azalea deciduous Jolie Madame
Tall compared to the azalea varieties described above, the Jolie Madame shrub is also experiencing frosty winters, but by 10 years can grow up to 3 meters in height. The flowers of this deciduous azalea are large, simple, bright pink in color. In the center, an orange-yellow spot is barely visible. The peak of flowering occurs in June, when 7–9 flowers develop on the shoots.
Azalea Knap Hill Schneegold
A spectacular deciduous azalea obtained by crossing a yellow rhododendron variety Saint Ruan and Cecile. The plant in the gardens is limited in growth. As a result of pruning, a crown is formed with a height and width of about one and a half meters, but without control, the azalea can grow to 2 meters in height.
The flowers are large with wavy petals on the edge of white. But white azalea cannot be called, since the top of the corolla is decorated with a yellow spot, and there is a pink blush on the bottom edge. Flowering occurs in May and June.
Azalea Knap Hill Chardash
This hybrid variety, derived from rhododendron yellow, also belongs to the azapale group Knap Hill. Flowering varieties begins in May, when the meter height of the bush are covered, as in the photo of azaleas, yellow and cream double flowers. Fragrance spreads around the plants. The difference between this azalea variety is the love of sunlight. The plant grows well and blooms precisely on the sunny side, in the shade the brightness and size of the rims decreases noticeably.
Azalea Knap Hill( Rhododendron yellow) Satan
One of the brightest azaleas from the English group is called "Satan" and stands out in scarlet simple colors with yellowish glow inside the veneer. The height of the light-loving erect plant reaches 180 cm. When planting, it is recommended to choose well-lit places with loose drained soil. The peak of flowering of this azalea, as in the photo, falls on the last decade of May and all of June.
Azalea hybrid "Slavka"( Knap Hill group)
Flowers of this variety azaleas have not only a pure white color, but also an amazing double structure, as if one rim is inserted into another. Elegant white azalea will decorate any garden and can be used both in single and in group plantings. The height of the bush is small, only 1–1.4 meters, the crown is spherical, compact.
Azalea Golden Lights( Rhododendron Golden Lights)
Spectacular plant with bright lush flowering and unusual frost resistance will not be lost in any garden or greenhouse. This is a deciduous azalea, bred by American breeders of the University of Minnesota. Azalea Hybrid Golden Lights belongs to the American Northern Lights group. An adult bush reaches a height of 150 cm and from May to June is magnificently decorated with golden yellow flowers 7 cm in diameter. For the plant, as in the photo azaleas, preferred shaded quiet places with abundant watering and rich humus acidic substrate.
Azalea Hybrid Azurro
The huge flowers of the Azzurro hybrid appear from the end of May and last until mid-June. Bushes of deciduous azaleas up to 1.5 meters high are covered with thousands of flowers of juicy purple-blackberry coloring with raspberry splashes inside the corolla.
Azalea deciduous Koichiro Wada
Azalea of the species yakushimanum belongs to the Asian plant species. The variety “Koichiro Wada” is distinguished from relatives by the bright pink color of the buds, which turns white when the halos fully open. Gradually cup-shaped flowers become completely white. The leaves are dark green, leathery, dense, but they are almost not visible because of the mass of azalea flowers, as in the photo, covering the crown until mid-June. The ornamental shrub grows up to 140 cm in height and 220 cm in width; it is very cold-resistant and picky when grown in a garden.