For a brilliant display of colorful single or double blossoms, it pays to purchase plants from specialists for growing on to maturity. If blossoms are desired during the Christmas season, select plants with buds already well set. Plants usually come burlapped; put the wrapped root-ball in a bucket of water, soak thoroughly and then drain well. Azaleas are acid-loving plants and do exceptionally well when planted in peatmoss in small pots, as roots like to be closely contained. Keep well moistened, but do not saturate.
A fine misting or syringing daily encourages bud development. Temperature of 60 F starting late in September' should force buds to open by Christmas; bud development can be held back by dropping temperature to 45 F. Store pots in a cool garage or cellar and bring a few at a time into the greenhouse for forcing into a continuing period of bloom, much the same as you schedule spring bulbs. Provide some shade from extremely bright sun and give plenty of fresh air.
To carry plants over the summer, set them out in the garden in spring, after danger of frost is over; plunge pots to the rim or plant directly in soil in a damp cool area. Water frequently. Sunshine from August on will promote bud development. Lift from garden in September, repot in fresh peatmoss in a pot just slightly larger than the rootball.
If plants are kept in pots all summer, they will usually go two years without repotting, and should be transferred to the new pot immediately after flowering has ceased in spring. Azaleas are propagated from cuttings taken in May; bottom heat of 65 F is required, and cuttings should be protected from direct sun and misted frequently. Use a mixture of peatmoss and clean sharp sand. After about 5 weeks roots will be developed sufficiently to move plants to flats of peatmoss; keep evenly moist. Shift to a second flat for further development and then to pots. Pinch to induce branching.
Loss of foliage indicates insufficient moisture or poor light. Yellowing of leaves can be corrected by watering with M ounce of iron sulphate dissolved in 1 gallon of water.
'Alaska', semi-double white, early blooming; 'Coral Bells', light pink, early blooming; 'Hahn's Red', single fringed red, midseason bloom; 'Jean Haerens', bright pink double, late blooming; "Veraeneana Rosea', double oranged-red, midseason bloom.