There has been an azalea bloom-a-thon at The Garden Guy’s house for the last six weeks and looks to not be stopping anytime soon. This has all been taking place in temperatures that have sometimes made me the irritable garden guy.
If you have not gotten on the bandwagon with re-blooming azaleas you are missing a real treat. I gave you a clue in the lead but they are so new you may not know about the Bloom-A-Thon series. At The Garden Guy’s house, the Bloom-a-Thon lavender flowers have been putting on a summer show that will rival any other azalea in the market.
The flowers are so large I had to get a tape measure to quantify. They are a whopping 31/2 inches wide. One of the real benefits to growing re-blooming azaleas is that they are in flower during peak butterfly season. So not only are butterflies hitting on them, but bees too!
It is not often I rave about plant structure when it comes to azaleas. Its not that they are in any way bad it is just usually they are ho-hum. This is not the case with Bloom-A-Thon lavender. These are mounded and evergreen, reaching about 4 feet tall and wide. This gives them the ability to provide the needed bones of the landscape when not in bloom.
Bloom-A-Thon Lavender azalea is recommended in zone 7a-9a and should be planted in fertile well-drained acid soil. The Garden Guy makes it a practice to incorporate organic matter into all azalea shrub beds. Add a layer of mulch after planting and again each year. The azalea keeps the roots near the soil surface and this annual decomposition of mulch and organic matter will maintain a good environment for new roots and help in moisture retention.
I have mine in a part sun area that is shifting through out the day. They do have the ability to tolerate a quite a bit of sun. The Bloom-A-Thon azaleas really do best in a filtered light to part sun area particularly in the south. I like them planted in curvy informal sweeps or clusters with odd numbers versus the formal toy soldier look.
In the bed where I am growing Bloom-a-Thon lavender, I wanted to create a complementary color scheme in front of a hedge of dwarf Burford hollies. So, I created a curve or sweep and partnered them with Florida Sunshine anise that has bright golden chartreuse foliage. Though my planting is young it is already making you look.
In my backyard I am growing Bloom-A-Thon red azaleas with blue re-blooming hydrangeas and Etched Glass hostas. I know there is an azalea-hydrangea partnership coming. The variegated hostas and Bloom-A-Thon red azalea marriage should provide a look that is both gawdy and wonderful. I’ll keep you posted.
Proven Winners now has five colors in the Bloom-A-Thon series, lavender, pink double, hot pink, white and a red, that will steal your heart. The white is more compact or petite reaching about 3 feet tall and wide.
So yes, you can have a glorious spring azalea bloom and follow it up with an extra-long, late summer to fall bloom too, when you grow Bloom-A-Thon re-blooming azaleas.
(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)