Garden Plant of the Month for March: Azalea

A flowering Azalea is a source of endless delight. March is an excellent month to place your Azalea in the garden so that you can enjoy a truly explosive cascade of flowers from May onwards. Meet the Garden Plant of the Month for March.

Many faces
The Azalea is a garden plant with many faces that looks fantastic in almost any garden, from hyper-minimalist to natural. The plant flowers profusely and elegantly in May and June with romantic flowers in white, pink, red or burgundy, but there are also varieties with bi-coloured flowers. This garden plant’s shape is as varied as its colour palette: from a standard shrub to a lollipop tree, and pyramid-shaped plants. Even the shape of the flower can vary, from large and small to double and single flowered. You might also be surprised to know that there are Azaleas with bright green or ‘black’ leaves.

Ancient plant
The ancient versions of the Azalea have been around for 70 million years. The plant is native to Japan and China and its 150+ species are part of the Rhododendron family. The garden plant that we know in Europe was originally cultivated by Buddhist monks and brought here during the days of the Dutch East Indies Company.

The Azalea is a hardy plant which prefers a semi-shady spot in the garden, because the soil there is usually a bit damper. Plant Azaleas deep: the hole should be twice the size and depth of the root ball. However, the garden plant is also very suitable for use in containers on the patio. Do ensure that excess (rain) water can drain, for example by using hydro beads or a hole in the bottom of the pot. Remove wilted flowers. Azaleas are best pruned after flowering.

Interesting facts

  • The botanical name is derived from the Greek word ‘azeleos’, which means ‘dry’ and refers to the plant’s woody branches.
  • In China the Azalea is known as the ‘I’m thinking of home’ shrub.
  • The Azalea is the national flower of Nepal.
  • In Japan giving someone an Azalea symbolises giving them happiness.

More information about the Azalea and other garden plants can be found at

Published on: 10 March 2016