A Gardener’s Guide to the Dwarf Azalea
The dwarf azalea is a pretty perennial shrub, boasting lovely scented blossoms of white and pink, although purple is also attainable. This intriguing flowering shrub is not generally commercially available, but sometimes one can be legally obtained under contract. An attractive addition to most gardens, both indoors and outdoors, this guide provides helpful growing tips as well as general information on this pleasant plant.
As stated above the dwarf azalea is most commonly found in white or pink shades. Its foliage is a dark green shade, and the plant may also have a small amount of brownish seeds and fruits. Average height for these plants tends to range, depending on the maturity of the plant. Since they have a remarkably long lifespan of over 20 years, dwarf azaleas’ height can certainly vary. At full maturity, however, they can reach up to 2.3 tall.
These varieties, often referred to as “gumpo” for the white blossoms, or “pink gumpo” for the pink ones, may not grow very tall in height or wide in width, but they make up for that in blossom size and appeal. It is not unusual for a blossom’s diameter to be on average of 3 inches, and when one takes the overall size of the plant into consideration, this is definitely a sought after trait.
As would be expected from most flowering plants, the dwarf azalea’s growing season is relegated to warmer months. In general, this plant is most active in growth during the spring and summer, but may be able to continue blooming in the fall if it is located in a sunny enough area and kept away from frost. During the fall, lucky owners of this plant can enjoy the beautiful fall colorations that this plant also exhibits.
Attaining and Propagation
Though it’s not generally available commercially, there are ways to grow one regardless, particularly if you live in regions near North Carolina where these plants are plentiful. You can easily propagate by cuttings, seeds, and even bare root should you come across them.
If you choose to start from seed, you need to keep in mind that this plant has a very slow ability to spread and that the seedlings have unusually low vigor in most cases. If you choose to go ahead with this process however, take care that your plant is never exposed to temperatures below seven degrees Fahrenheit, and to avoid cold stratification for germination.
Growing Requirements and Hints
Although this plant is moderately tolerant to drought, you should water it regularly, particularly during the first year. Be careful not to over-water though, or your plant may sustain root rot. Use good judgment and your plant should be happy. During hot summer days, you should water this plant at least once per day, particularly if you live in tropical heat.
When planting this shrub outdoors in your pre-existing garden, it is important to provide enough room for its expanding root system. Dig a hole at least 12 inches in depth and fill with coarse soil that will provide enough physical support. You can also supplement this with compost and fertilizer, particularly during the first year. This is especially helpful after the final frost of the year.
Should you keep it indoors, your plant will not need to fear frosts, but if you decide to keep it outside, you need to live in a region that can guarantee no less than 220 frost-free days. Your plant will be able to come back after long winter months, but it can’t last forever. If this is a problem, you can easily transition your dwarf azalea into a large indoor pot.