Rhododendron-Simsii

Indian Azalea is a hybrid derived from R. simsii, a species found in China and Taiwan. The first azaleas brought to Europe in 1808 were already hybrids from some Japanese garden. Because they caught the fancy of horticulturists, they soon became the object of extensive cross-breeding, chiefly in Belgium and Germany. As a result, there are now vast numbers of cultivars, categorized according to their flowering period into three groups: early, semi-early, and late flowering. Each group includes many cultivars that differ in the form or colour of the flowers (semi-double, double, pink, violet, etc.).

The Indian Azalea requires diffused light. It is usually transferred to a partially shaded location in the garden from May to September. When it is moved back indoors, maintain a temperature at 5°-12°C (41°-54°F). As soon as the buds begin to swell, raise the temperature to 18°C (64° F). It is best grown in a mixture of peat, heath or pine-leaf mould and sand. It is a lime-hating plant. The compost must be coarse and porous with a pH of about 4. Water liberally in summer, even twice a day if necessary. In winter, when the plant is not in flower, water sparingly, but do not allow it to dry out. Rainwater is best; in any case, do not use water that contains lime. After the flowers have fin ished, the plant must be moved to a larger container. Even though azaleas are used for room decoration only until they finish flowering, if cared for properly, they will last a number of years.

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