Pontic Azalea (Azalea, stone bush) is a decorative, abundantly flowering shrub from the heather family. Another name is Rhododendron (Rhododendron) In eastern countries it is a symbol of peace, joy, freedom.
Azalea is a branched shrub reaching 2-4 m in height and 6 m in diameter. The leaves are oblong, pointed, narrowed to the base. Flowers with a small cup are collected 7-12 in umbrellas. Long curved stamens give the flowers a special appeal. They have a variety of shades: from white to dark red. Today varieties with terry flowers are bred. It blooms from December to May, repeated blooming in summer is possible.
The fruits are a cylindrical oblong box 1.5-2.5 cm long.
Shrubs originating from the Indian rhododendron, which is covered with large flowers in the winter and blooms before the beginning of spring, are most valued. Japanese azalea has small flowers that appear in April, sometimes at Christmas.
Where did the name come from
Pontic azalea was named after the story of Xenophon. The ten thousandth Greek army during the retreat stopped on the Black Sea. The warriors ate honey collected by bees from the azalea, and died, poisoning them.
Another name for the plant - rhododendron - in translation means a rosewood, perhaps so called because of the beautiful flowering.
Azalea native to East Asia, distributed in China, Japan, North America.
Azalea grows in the east and southeast of Europe, in Asia Minor, Transcaucasia. In Russia, it can be found in the North Caucasus and in the European part. It grows in forests and undergrowths, mountains at an altitude of up to 2000 m, often forming thickets.
The use of plants in various fields
Due to the bright color of the leaves and flowers, it is used as an ornamental plant.
Essential oil is produced from flowers.
All parts of the plant contain the substance andromedotoxin, therefore it is poisonous. Azalea honey is also poisonous, even for bees.
Several ways to propagate a plant
Seeds are sown in the spring. Since the seeds are very small, for a uniform planting, they are mixed with sand. Sown on the surface of the soil without sprinkling on top. Abundant watering is required, maintaining air humidity of 90-100%. Dry seeds will not sprout. Germination temperature is recommended 18-22 0FROM.
Sprouts appear within 3 weeks. When the first leaves grow, plants should be dived. Landing in the ground is recommended for the second year in May-June.
In indoor conditions, the reproduction of azalea is difficult. In February-July, cuttings of 4-6 cm long are cut from unbranched shoots. They are rooted in peat, coniferous land or in a mixture of peat, coniferous land and sand. Cuttings deepen by 2-3 cm, maintain air humidity 80%, temperature 25-300. Rooting lasts one and a half to two months. It should be planted in a sunny place, but avoid direct rays, use diffused lighting. Plants must be protected from the wind. If buds form on the cuttings, they should be cut.
An overgrown azalea bush can be divided into parts and planted. The bush is divided by a shovel into several parts, small roots are separated by a sharp knife. Parts of the bush are planted in the nursery in the prepared soil. Here it is recommended to keep the plant for 1-2 years until new shoots are formed at the base of the bush and its natural formation begins.
Proper plant care
Azalea is an extremely whimsical plant that requires constant care. In violation of familiar conditions, ceases to bloom, may die.
The plant prefers moist cool air in partial shade. He does not like direct hot sunlight.
After flowering, the branches need to be pruned, and also remove the thickened shoots. Pruning should be done very carefully, as the bush is poisonous.
To form lush bushes, pruning is carried out several times in early summer. Young shoots before flowering and pinch during it. In the fall, flower buds develop, at which time you need to maintain a temperature of 6-80, in the subsequent period, increase it gradually to 12-150.
Azalea is very fond of moisture, during growth and flowering it is necessary to water the plant abundantly. It is useful to spray the bush in the hot season (except for the flowering period). If there is not enough moisture, flowers and leaves will begin to fall.
In winter, the soil of blooming azaleas is covered with snow instead of watering. This contributes to longer flowering, as it inhibits the formation of leaf buds and the plant does not dump flowers.
The root system is shallow, compact, so loosening is done carefully, digging near the trunks is not recommended.
Young plants are transplanted annually, trying not to disturb the root ball. Old transplanted every 2-3 years or add a fresh substrate. In February-August, shrubs need top dressing.
If the air temperature is too high, while the air is dry, then the spider mite can hit the azalea, due to which the leaves turn yellow and fall off.
A spider mite, or, as they call it another way, a red spider is a small pest that forms a web of white thin threads on the back of the leaves.
Growing azaleas is not at all difficult
When a tick appears, the azalea leaves must be washed or treated with a special herbal solution: a decoction of tobacco, onion, pepper, garlic, calendula, yarrow.
Also a dangerous pest is the azalea aphid, whose secretions contribute to the formation of soot fungus. To clean the leaves, wipe with a soapy sponge. After 3-4 days, treatment should be repeated, since in this way only adult pests are killed. To combat, you can also use the infusion of potato tops with the addition of soap or an infusion of crushed dandelion leaves. An article about a snowman will also be interesting.
Bonsai can be created from azaleas, for this purpose they are transplanted into bonsai dishes in the fall and give the plant the desired shape. Please note that the trunk of the plant is fragile, so carefully support it when bending.