Top Of The Crops - Azalea

Growing Azalea in a Polytunnel

Azaleas are better known as medium to large size shrubs, but there are also smaller dwarf varieties that can be used inside the home and for growing in containers. A polytunnel can help with rearing containerized azaleas that can be forced into bloom for cheery displays earlier in the spring. Azaleas come in a range of different varieties, some of which are frost tender and some of which are fully hardy. It is important to choose the right variety for how and where you want to grow it.

Sowing and Growing Requirements for Azalea

Azaleas can be purchased in containers from a range of vendors. They are also frequently grown from cuttings, which are usually taken from the new growth in the spring. Cuttings should be no more than 2cm in length and cuttings should be placed around the edge of a pot and kept moist.

Azaleas in containers should be kept moist, and fed with a general purpose organic fertiliser as soon as it flowers. The pot should ideally be kept in a bright place but out of direct sunlight. You should add some organic matter and move to a larger container in the spring. Try to water consistently in order to avoid any checks in growth. Do not over water however, as many types of azalea can be prone to root rot. Gradually reduce watering around a month before the first frost.

With house-plant azaleas which are more tender, keep the plants indoors or in a heated polytunnel or another heated space before moving to a polytunnel or a sheltered and sunny spot outside after all risk of frost has passed in your area and the weather has warmed in the late spring/ early summer. Moving to a cooler space after having kept warm in the winter will help to stimulate blooms in less hardy cultivars.

Azaleas kept in the warmth with consistent watering and good care, you can encourage them to flower sooner in the spring. This can bring a welcome splash of colour at a time of year when there are far fewer blooms around.

Harvesting Azalea

Azaleas' blooms are big, vibrant and relatively long lasting. The large flowers of outdoors or polytunnel grown plants can be cut and used for floral arrangements in vases inside your home. Cut blooms as and when required to enjoy these colourful displays inside your home.

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