Azalea is the Houseplant of the month for December 2016
The surfeit of flowers means you can hardly see the green leaves: with an Azalea you really are ending the year with a bang!
The Azalea’s cheerful, flamboyant flowers are an excellent remedy against the dark days before Christmas. They bloom lavishly and elegantly on plants in the familiar bush form, but are also available as a mini, pyramid or standard. The flowers are white, pink, red or burgundy, but there are also Azaleas with bicoloured flowers. And the shape the flower can also vary, from small to large to double and single. That makes the Azalea the perfect houseplant for really shaking things up indoors. All those different shapes and colours fit with the current trend of ‘the more stimuli the better’ because you don’t want to miss a thing and a little more can’t do any harm.
Because the Azalea already has a very strong personality, it’s best to put it in a pot with real presence. Lacquered metal from bright through to pastel, pale wood and matt earthenware with relief are all a good match, and all ensure that the flowers can still play the starring role. Place different colours and types of Azalea together at different heights for an indoor energy boost. And combine the plant with geometric backgrounds for a mildly psychedelic effect which fits well with the endless torrent of stimuli which constantly envelop us nowadays.
Azalea & care
When making your purchase choose an Azalea whose flowers are already slightly open. Azaleas like to be at room temperature in indirect light to be able to bloom well. As far as care is concerned, you should immerse the soil once every four days, preferably in boiled, cooled water (the plant cannot cope well with hard water) until you can no longer see any bubbles. Then leave to drain well. No extra plant food is needed during the blooming period – a modern Azalea will provide flowers for at least six weeks. Remove wilted flowers and leave the plant in a cool spot to rest until the next flowering.
- The Azalea is part of the Rhododendron family; there are more than 150 species.
- The original versions have been around for 70 million years.
- The name is derived from the Greek word ‘azaleos’, which means ‘dry’ and probably refers to the plant’s woody branches.
- In China the Azalea is known as the ‘I am thinking of home bush’.
- The houseplant as we know it in the West was originally cultivated by Buddhist monks.
- The Azalea is the national flower of Nepal and is referred to there in ancient medical texts.
- The plant is and remains extremely popular in the Far East: major festivals are devoted to it in Japan, Korea and China.
- As far as we know the Azalea first appeared in the Netherlands in 1680, when the plant was imported on Dutch East India Company ships.
- Almost 85% of the Azaleas in Europe are grown in the Belgian province of East Flanders.
- In Japan giving someone an Azalea symbolises giving them luck.
- To make an original party decoration snip off some flowers with their stem and place them in a glass of water.
- The Azalea is a popular houseplant to try your bonsai techniques on. As a ‘basal-dominant’ plant it mainly sends its growth to the lower parts of the plant. By vigorously pruning there and leaving the top virtually untouched, you can produce an energetically flowering mini-tree in the Japanese style.
For more information see: www.thejoyofplants.co.uk
Published on: 24 November 2016