Gumpo Azalea

Guidelines for the Gumpo Azalea


Emerging as one of the more popular landscaping plants, the gumpo azalea offers all season visual display for gardens in growing zones 4 through 9.  Fortunately, this dwarf variety excels as a container plant as well so that gardeners in other zones are able to enjoy their year round beauty as well.


Azaleas


Members of the rhododendron family, azaleas are great shrubs that can be grown in the type of conditions that many other shrubs find inhabitable.  Many species are classified as evergreens, while others are deciduous.  All of them offer bright splashes of color in the spring.  Azaleas in general are specific in their ideal growing conditions; preferring acidic soil in shady to partly shady locations.  When choosing an azalea variety, it is important to note its USDA growing zone, as there are different species that do well in diverse zones.  Most do best in USDA zones 5 through 9, but there are a few that are hardy to Zone 4.


Many of the azalea species bring their brilliant colors into view in the early spring, offering relief from the still drab landscape around them.  Blossoms last only a few days at their optimal color, beginning to fade and disappear in the days following.  For this reason, many fans of this flowering bush have learned that planting later blooming varieties of the plant along with the early bloomers provides longer lasting color in the shadier areas of their yard.


The gumpo azalea


Those who live in USDA growing zones 6 through 9 will find that one of the loveliest of late spring bloomers is the gumpo azalea.  A member of the evergreen varieties of azaleas, the gumpo exhibits the common preference for temperate climates, although they are hardy to temperatures down to 5 below.  The shrub is a slow growing variety that achieves a relatively small maturity size of approximately 2 feet in height.  An attractive rounded growth habit can spread to 3 feet in diameter.


Even those who have small yards can enjoy growing the gumpo, as it does very well as a container plant.  Its hardy nature enables it to be grown in a variety of conditions, including seacoast locations.  As with all members of the azalea family, an acidic soil of between 5.5 and 6.0 pH is required for the plant to flourish.  To help maintain this acidity, it is beneficial to mulch chopped pine needles into the soil around the bush.


The evergreen foliage of this azalea makes it an all season plant; providing beauty in the form of dark green leaves that stand out against the bright whiteness of winter.  The gumpo discards spent leaves twice each year as new foliage emerges, but at an intermittent basis so that the shrub is always densely covered with the attractive tiny, teardrop shaped leaves.  The gumpo is part of the Satsuki group in the azalea family; Satsuki means “fifth month” in Japanese according to the old lunar calendar which indicates the bloom time of this shrub.   Since many azalea blooms have faded and disappeared by June, the appearance of the gumpo blooms is much welcomed.  Available in brilliant white, delicate pink or vibrant red, the blossoms literally blanket the surface of this flowering bush in ruffled splendor.  Their beauty is fleeting, sadly; azalea flowers fade and drop off within a few days.


Care of the gumpo azalea is easy enough for any beginner to handle.  In the first season after planting, ensure the plant receives adequate moisture in order for the root system to develop.  Providing a good layer of mulch around the plant will keep the roots cool as well as retain moisture.  Pruning is not usually necessary; however, if desired be sure to prune in the spring immediately after flowering.


Azaleas have long been favored plants for landscaping, capable of thriving in conditions where most other plants fail.  The year round appeal of the gumpo makes it a very popular landscaping shrub indeed.