Plant Profile: Azaleas


A certain Washington Post garden columnist calls them over-used and garish, but we cannot get enough of them every spring! From native varieties to Asian hybrids, there is a perfect azalea for most every local garden. They dazzle in shades of shimmering pinks and pale peaches to deep reds and pure white.

You can put together collection of early-, mid-and late-season blooming varieties and have an azalea flowering in your garden for six months or more. (Though technically, with the newer re-blooming varieties, the flowering season can extend all the way through the year.)

Plant them where they can attain their full size and you will never need to prune them. They do not love to be in hot afternoon sun and prefer an acidic soil, but basically they are low-maintenance and rewarding shrubs.

Benjamin Y. Morrison, the famed horticulturalist who was the founder and first director of the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC, is noted for cross-breeding different strains of azaleas to produce the Glenn Dale cultivars, which are prevalent today throughout the eastern United States. Morrison lived in Takoma Park, MD, and many of his Glenn Dale introductions can be seen throughout the city’s private home gardens and public parks.

You don’t want to miss the seasonal display of azalea in mass plantings at the U.S. National Arboretum. See our list of 20+ more top viewing spots in the Washington, DC, region at:  http://washingtongardener.blogspot.com/2016/05/top-local-spots-for-azalea-viewing-best.html.


The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Allison O'Reilly.

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