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blooming plant

                                               azalea

B­ OTANICAL NAME                                                   Rhododendron spp.                                     Rhododendron spp.
Rhododendron spp.                                                  Azalea, Florist azalea                                    Azalea topiary
(row-doe-DEN-dron)
                                                                              Bay City Flower Co., Inc.                           Bay City Flower Co., Inc.
COMMON NAMES
Azalea, Florist azalea                         hour or so several times each week; even                  challenges
                                               then, irreversible damage to the plant may
DESCRIPTION                                    have occurred.                                            BUD, BLOOM AND/OR LEAF DROP Causes
Azaleas have funnel-shaped flowers in          TEMPERATURE Azaleas prefer cool air; 60 F                 include exposure to ethylene gas,
clustered heads. Single-, semidouble- and      to 70 F during the daytime and 50 F to                    dry potting medium (see “Shrivel-
double-flowered varieties are available as     60 F at night is ideal. Plants can be refriger-           ing Leaves,” below), low humidity,
are ruffle-petaled varieties. Leaves are dark  ated, if necessary, at 36 F to 41 F, for up to            high temperatures and exposure to
green, leathery and oblong to obovate          six days.                                                 direct sunlight.
shaped. Houseplants are typically dwarf        HUMIDITY Azaleas like high relative humid-
shrubs that grow 12 to 18 inches tall, but     ity levels. Misting leaves daily during                   SHRIVELING LEAVES The most common
“topiary” forms also are cultivated.           the blooming period can be helpful in                     cause is dry potting medium. Soak
                                               dry environments.                                         the pot in a larger container of soft
COLORS                                         FERTILIZER While blooming as houseplants,                 water for at least one hour, until the
Hues include a range of reds and pinks,        azaleas require no fertilization.                         potting medium is thoroughly satu-
lavenders and purples, peach, salmon,          SOIL Azaleas prefer a potting medium                      rated (bubbles disappear), several
coral and white as well as bicolors.           of equal parts peat or Sphagnum moss                      times each week, and never allow it
                                               and soil.                                                 to dry out again. Other causes are
DECORATIVE LIFE                                ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Azaleas are affected                 low humidity, high temperatures
With proper care, azaleas typically provide    by exposure to ethylene gas. Symptoms in-                 and exposure to direct sunlight.
consumers two to four weeks of flowering       clude bud, flower and/or leaf drop. Ensure                If the plant has lost more than
enjoyment, depending on stage of maturity      your plants are protected from exposure to                one-third of its leaves, discard it
at the time of purchase (see “Buying Tip,”     ethylene in your facilities.                              because it will never recover.
below right). Blooming is often followed by    GROOMING Remove faded flowers promptly.
a flush of new foliage.                        REBLOOMING Unless you live where winters                  YELLOW LEAVES This is an indication
                                               are short and mild, florist azaleas are                   of either an iron deficiency or the
AVAILABILITY                                   difficult—although not impossible—to                      presence of lime in the potting
Azaleas are available year-round.              get to rebloom (unlike the hardy garden                   medium or water. To treat an iron
                                               Rhododendrons/azaleas). It’s usually best                 deficiency, fertilize the plant with an
in-store and                                   to advise customers to enjoy their azalea                 acid azalea food that contains iron.
consumer care                                  plants as they would long-lasting cut-flow-               To rid compost of lime, water the
                                               er arrangements.                                          plant with soft water.
LIGHT Azaleas require bright diffused light
(no direct sunlight).                                                                                    BROWN LEAVES This can be an
WATER These plants’ potting medium,                                                                      indication of root rot caused by
which is usually all or part peat or Sphag-                                                              fungi in the soil. Infected plants
num moss, dries out quickly and must be                                                                  should be discarded.
kept evenly moist at all times. Water with
soft water, if possible. If the potting medi-                                                            PESTS Spider mites are the most
um dries out, it can be difficult to rehy-                                                               common azalea pests, and infesta-
drate and usually requires submerging pots                                                               tions occur when the air is too warm
into a larger container of water for an                                                                  and/or too dry. Parched or crinkled
                                                                                                         leaf tips, with webbing on leaf un-
Super Floral has created this page for         buying tip                                                dersides, is a sign of spider mites.
the education of store-level employ-                                                                     Prune infested stems, and spray
ees. To download a reprintable PDF,            Buy plants that have masses of                            remaining plant parts with insecti-
please go to www.superfloral.com               well-developed buds and with no                           cidal soap; however, if more than
and select “Current Issue.”                    more than 20 percent open blooms.                         one-third of the plant is infested,
                                                                                                         discard it. sf

18 www.superfloral.com / july 2015
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