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What Is a Japanese Azalea?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2019
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People who would like to add brilliant color to their gardens may want to grow a Japanese azalea. This flower consists of five-petaled blooms, which may be red, orange, pink, gold, or coral in color. They normally bloom in early to mid spring each year, and the blossoms remain until late summer or early fall. It is sometimes referred to as Rhododendron japonicum, as azaleas are a member of the rhododendron family.

The Japanese azalea actually grows on a deciduous shrub. This bush can grow anywhere from 4 to 8 feet (1.2 to 2.4 m) high and 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m) wide. Like most types of azalea, the Japanese variety has very dense foliage and woody stems. The leaves are normally medium to dark green in color, slightly pointed, and waxy. These leaves do not change color before they are shed in autumn.

Azalea flowers normally appear in clusters of six to eight blooms. Although there are many colors of this flower, only one shade is found on a bush. Each shrub contains both male and female flowers, and they are pollinated by bees in order to reproduce. The petals normally open outward to form somewhat of a star pattern, but in some cases, they may face upward or droop downward. If the blossoms are drooping, the edges of the petals normally curl inward; this is not normally seen if the flowers face up or out.

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When planting azalea, people should try to find a location in full sun if possible. The Japanese azalea may also tolerate partial shade as long as there is some afternoon sun available. It can also thrive whenever there is filtered sunlight for at least eight to ten hours per day. While this is true, the bush may be smaller and produce fewer blossoms if it is partially shaded rather than placed in full sun.

Caring for azalea bushes is generally very easy to do. The shrub needs to be watered frequently, but should not be over-watered, which means the soil should be allowed to completely dry out between watering. Gardeners may fertilize their Japanese azalea in the spring with a fertilizer that is rated 10-10-10. It may be necessary to prune this shrub once or twice a year in order to keep this plant from becoming unruly. This should be done in the fall after the leaves have fallen, or in the spring before the blossoms appear.

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