December’s houseplant of the month offers lots of showy colour: azalea.
With lavish flowers and available in classic December colours, the Azalea is an original alternative for creating atmosphere while still being a real seasonal classic. Azalea’s official name is Rhododendron syn. Azalea. Rhododendron is a compound of the Greek words for ‘red’ and ‘tree’ and freely translated it means ‘a woody plant with rose red flowers’. Azalea means ‘dry’ in Greek, which refers to the tough wood and not the soil, which – should always be slightly damp. As the word Rhododendron conjures up images of the large garden shrub for most people, the name Azalea is used for the houseplant.
Care tips for azaleas
- Azalea likes a drink. Give the plant plenty of water on a regular basis, or immerse the pot in a bucket of water to saturate the soil completely. Special pots are available for plants that need a lot of water which provide the plant with the required moisture from a water reservoir.
- The plant cannot cope well with heat, which will cause it to droop. You should therefore avoid a position in bright sunlight or near a source of heat. The Azalea prefers a cool, light spot.
- To ensure profuse flowering, feed the plant with plant food once a fortnight. If the plant needs to be repotted into a larger pot, it’s important to use special acidic potting soil especially designed for acid-loving plants.
- If the Azalea has grown too big as a houseplant, it can be planted out in the garden after flowering in shady, acidic, moisture-retaining soil. The plant prefers to spend the winter sheltered in a greenhouse or shed with some shelter.
- Regularly sprays the plant when it’s in bud. Do not spray once the buds open.