How do you tell an Azalea from a Rhododendron? Most Azaleas have only 5 or 6 stamen while most rhododendrons have 10 stamen. Azalea leaves tend to be thinner, softer and more pointed than rhododendron leaves.
In a subjective way I think Azaleas produce more flower cover per plant.
Tips for Growing Azaleas
- Azaleas are relatively pest-free and easy to grow plants but may need a fungal spray if leaves are attacked in spring.
- Azaleas like some shade but deciduous varieties do well in full sun. Sun can produce more compact plants with more blooms but not as long lasting.
- Azalea like a slightly acid soil such as that found under oak and pine trees. A mulch of pine bark, needles or wood chips helps to keep moisture in the ground and suppress weeds.
- Azaleas do not like “wet feet” but need moisture too help to produce more flower buds for next year. So give plants a good soaking everynow and then after flowering.
- Good drainage can be provided by planting Azaleas with the tops of their root balls a few inches above ground level and mounding the soil up to the plants. Do not plant too deep.
- Established Azaleas do not need fertilizer that only encourages unproductive lush growth.
- Avoid pruning but shorten long slender stems with no side shoots and cut out dead wood at any time.
The Azalea Society of America has a good photographic collection.
Read more on Blazing Azaleas
Growing Deciduous Azaleas in the UK
If I were to choose one variety of Azalea it would come from the Knaphill hybrids of the 1960’s. They are well worth seeking out.
Plants on show at the National collection in Sherwood Gardens Exeter include
1. Azalea ‘Barbecue’
2. Azalea ‘Bright Forecast’
3. Buzzard and Occidentals
4. Azalea ‘Buzzard’
5. Azalea ‘Calico’
6. Azalea ‘Chelsea Reach’
7. Azalea ‘Crocea Tricolor’
8. Azalea ‘Daviesii’
9. Azalea ‘Double Damask’
10. Azalea ‘Drury Lane’
11. Azalea ‘Gibralter’
12. Azalea ‘Golden Oriole’
13. Azalea ‘Harvest Moon’
14. Azalea ‘Homebush’
15. Azalea ‘Irene Koster’
16. Azalea ‘Jack Brunell’
17. Azalea ‘Knaphill Apricot’
18. Azalea ‘Knaphill Red’
19. Azalea ‘Knaphill White’
20. Azalea ‘Occidentale White’
21. Azalea atlanticum