Monday, May 12, 2008

Deciduous Azaleas, Mountain Azaleas, Exbury Hybrids

Mostly photos of our Deciduous Azaleas, Exbury Hybrids. We always called the mountain Azaleas but I don't know where we got that name. I guess the deciduous Azaleas may all be variations of Rhododendron canescens or Rhododendron Pentanthera.
Some other Rhododendrons and Azaleas which are also blooming now are also included.

Orange and Pink! An example of terrible placement. This is what happens when planting things not in flower :)


Blogger Jessica said...

Beautiful! I love the colors--just recently discovered this plant for our young garden:) Do you still amend the soil or are you lucky to have the right balance? I've got our azaleas in containers (which makes it so easy to control), but I'd love to plant some along our house!

9:48 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Jessica,
When we first planted these azaleas I didn't amend the soil and it was planted in about 3 inches of topsoil and the rest was clay. I'm surprised many of them lived. When I learned azaleas and rhododendrons have shallow roots I realized I should have amended the soil. This was further reinforced when we went to an American Rhododendrons Society sale. A knowledgeable person there suggested planting the rhodies and azaleas by digging a hole and filling it with pine bark mulch, using only that as a planting medium. I did this with a large specimen rhodie we bought with mixed results. I wouldn't recommend the pine mulch only medium but would mix some of your native soil in with the mulch to make it a bit more moisture retentive unless you want to water the plants everyday.

Just remember to water them if there isn't rainfall for weeks on end. A leaf mold mulch would be great too.

A word of caution. Every year we have an infestation of Green Sawfly larvae (tiny green worms) looks like inch worms, which will devastate the new leaves on the deciduous azaleas especially the Exbury hybrids. This year they appeared about a week and a half ago so I've been spraying the leaves with a solution of neem oil with a bit of detergent to act as a wetting agent. Others have had success using Sevin but I try to stay away from toxic chemical sprays.

Good luck. They are worth the effort to grow.

6:13 PM  
Blogger IBOY said...

Ki... your azaleas look so nice and compact... do you prune a lot? Wow, good thing you reminded me about the sawfly larvae; they chewed everything up good last year before I noticed. You've had good luck with neem??


8:49 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Don,
We have never pruned the azaleas or rhododendrons. They don't seem to grow much even when they've been in ground for 4-5 years. The tallest one is about 5 feet now. I think we bought it already at 3+ feet tall so it hasn't grown very rapidly.

The Neem doesn't seem to work any better than just a teaspoon of detergent in a gallon of water. I thought the Neem coated leaves would be a deterrent but the caterpillars munch happily on the sprayed leaves. The detergent water solution kills the larvae by drowning them so you have to spray heavily to make sure they are wet. I usually have to spray on several consecutive days to make sure I keep the larvae in control. I guess I should use Sevin but I loathe to use chemical sprays or powder.

I lost several deciduous azaleas when the caterpillars ate all the foliage before I noticed. After that, I make sure I check the new leaves as soon as they emerge. I hope you didn't lose any.

3:39 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Thanks so much for your advice--I'm so grateful for the wonderful blogs! It helps so much to have guidance:) I definitely agree that their gorgeous and worth a tr!

2:17 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Mountain azalea. Have you been to Longwood gardens? They call them mountain azalea as well. Maybe that's where you got the name. I was just there today. I don't know when I'll get my bog up to date with this story, but I have almost 300 pictures to download and evaulate first.

As far as bad placement, Mother Nature puts all colors together with no rhime or reason and they always look beautiful.

2:35 PM  
Blogger joey said...

Lovely azalea photos, Ki. Mine are bursting but haven't had time to shoot. Adore my Exbury Hybrids that add the extra 'umph' in the garden.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Jessica,
Thanks for visiting. I too get lots of ideas from other blogs. I've been introduced to plants I would never have known about. The azaleas are quite bright and colorful so be careful how you place them in your garden so it doesn't clash with other plants.

Hi Julie,
We visited Longwood Gardens many years ago but it must have been early summer because I didn't notice any azaleas blooming. I would be v. interested to see some of the spring flowers planted there so I'll check your blogs for updates. I think Mother Nature shows some restraint and even if she offers flowers of many hues they never seem to be placed in visually awkward juxtapositions. We with our ability to enhance colors, select for quantity of blooms and with bad placement can lead to color chaos. ;) I don't know how we managed to collect so many azaleas but especially when they are blooming so prolifically this year it is made doubly evident that many were planted in places where they should have been. Orange and purple?


Hi Joey,
I'd love to see your azaleas. I'll check your blog to see them. Umph is a good word to describe the sometimes shocking colors of Exbury. Do your plant leaves get eaten by the green sawfly larvae?

4:19 AM  
Blogger Blackswamp_Girl said...

Orange and pink? No problem... those rules about clashing colors go out the window in the spring, Ki. Especially after a winter such as this one. :)

6:42 PM  
Blogger Sarah Laurence Blog said...

Ki, what a beautiful full palette of colors you have blooming in your garden! It helps to see so much bright color as the weather returns to wet and grey here in England.

1:22 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kim,
I'm going to do a blog specifically on clashing colors :) We've planted numerous azaleas and rhodos which are quite large so when they are covered with bright blooms that are not complimentary - well to put it kindly our whole front yard looks like a mess. I blame it on buying plants when they are not flowering.

It really is quite amazing that you guys in the Midwest really got socked this winter and we experienced a very mild one with only one significant snow fall of about 2-3 inches. I don't think we had more than 4 inches of snow all winter. Lots of rain tho which was good for the plants esp. the evergreens.

Hi Sarah,
Our neighbor was just saying her relative in the UK said they/you were having a snow storm! I'm glad the photos of colorful plants gave you a lift. Thank you for stopping by.

4:00 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

ki, don't use Sevin. It is a really toxic poison as you already know. It kills everything and poisons you as well. The saying goes "Poison the pray, poison the predator".

Neem usually makes the leaves distastful to the pests. In the case of the sawflies, this doesn't appear to happen. Your solution of the soap with the water is a good one but be careful not to spray it in full sun or when the temperatures are above 80 degrees. This solution is especially good for the soft bodied insects. The dish soap (and make sure this is dish soap) has a chemical in it that breaks down protiens that have a tendency to stick on your dishes. This is the same protein that the soft bodies of these pests are made of. The dish soap breaks down the external covering of the pests and they die. Use it in the same formula you are using now. It must make contact with the insects, so you are doing it right.

I have a serious problem with using poisons. My neighbor has a fellow who nukes her garden every year. He kills everything. She doesn't understand that he could poison something in her garden that her dogs could get ahold of and then they'd be gone too. But that's her. She also plays that darn radio 24/7 that drives me nuts too. But this is my soap box.

4:38 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Julie,
I thought I would have good results using Neem but unfortunately no. The sawfly larvae didn't seem to mind chewing through the treated leaves. I thought the worms died when using the soap spray because they drowned but thanks for setting me straight. I previously used Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile soap but switched over to a different brand recommended by my sister.

We have fishponds, a dog and a cat, so I'm very reluctant to use any pesticides. I cringe when our neighbor who hires a lawn service have them spray their lawn with who knows what. I yelled at the guy one windy day that if the overspray killed my koi, the company would have to pay for the replacement. Didn't faze him, just kept on spraying. Luckily the fish didn't die only to be killed later in the year by a raccoon :(

My parents had a neighbor who loved to spray all kinds of pesticides. He didn't get the hint when we slammed all the windows shut. Whaddayagonnado.

7:13 PM  

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