Those of you that follow my ramblings each fortnight (I know there is at least one of you out there), will realise I have briefly touched on Indian Azaleas in the past when referring to houseplants that thrive in cool conditions. This week I am giving them their own slot with more detailed growing needs because they are such a stunning source of colour over winter that it would be a shame if they were not included in your winter plant displays.
Indian azaleas will now be available to buy and they come in many colours and sizes. Red or pink flowers still remain the firm favourites for colour but white, orange and several bi-colour strains are also available. When the plants are in full flower you will barely notice the foliage as the whole plant becomes a cloud of blooms.
As I said earlier these plants are cool growers and the display will be short-lived if they are placed in a centrally heated room. Ideally azaleas need an unheated conservatory, enclosed porch or somewhere similar that is also well lit.
The second important point to remember is that azaleas must not be allowed to dry out. They may need watering several times a week to keep them moist and don’t be afraid to immerse the pot to ensure they get a thorough soaking.
Indian azaleas will live for many years given the right conditions. Place the pot outside in a shady spot during summer and feed and water well, bringing it back in to cool, light conditions before the frosts start.
As the original plant you bought will have been treated with growth inhibitors to keep it small it will start to revert back to it’s natural habit. Trim back after flowering if your plant becomes too large for it’s space.