“After the Christmas decorations were hung up, buyers began to look for rings more actively – they often want to liven up their homes with new colors. Cut flowers are always popular, and those who want a longer-lasting decoration look at potted, inexpensive, but blooming plants. Among such choices are multi-colored primroses, calendulas, roses, orchids that are loved in all seasons, as well as well-known hyacinths, and increasingly popular azaleas on a stem,” says V. Budrienė.
Blooming with white, pale pink, or deep pink flowers, stem azaleas should be cared for in the same way as any other potted azalea. According to Vesta Paukštel, manager of the store’s Fresh flowers and plants category, at first glance, azaleas on a stem may seem quite demanding, but understanding the character of these plants is not difficult – it is enough to remember a few rules, and the beauties will decorate the house with flowers even when it is cloudy outside the window.
“The first step is important even in the store. When buying, it is worth paying attention to the general condition of the plant. Check leaves, buds and flowers step by step. Choose an azalea with dark green, shiny leaves, free of spots and blemishes. If, in addition to developed flowers, the plant has many buds, then it will bloom for many weeks. Of course, if you take care of it properly at home. The most important thing is to know which place to choose, when to water and when to prune,” says the flower connoisseur.
Place at home. Do not place azaleas on a sunny windowsill. Choose a cooler place for her where the light is diffused, for example, near a window covered with a day curtain. In winter – on the south, and in summer and spring – on the north or east. Azalea can dry out in direct sunlight, and bloom poorly in too much shade. Once the azalea on the stem has warmed up, you can take it out to the balcony or garden, but make sure that bright sunlight does not reach it there either. It is also important that this plant does not stand in a draft.
Temperature. Ideally, the azalea should be kept on the stem at 15-18 degrees. If it’s warmer at home, at least keep it away from radiators, don’t put it on a heated floor.
Watering. As long as the azalea delights with its flowers, its soil in the pot must be constantly slightly moist. Here, as with many other flowers, balance is important. Abundant watering can cause its roots to rot, while lack of water will cause the azalea to wilt. If you forget to water, you can put the pot in a bowl of water for an hour to moisten the soil. For watering, it is recommended to use soft, for example, boiled water at room temperature. Avoid wetting the flowers – the petals will stick together and lose their beauty.
Fertilization. Potted azaleas should be fertilized every 2-3 weeks. Fertilizers for azaleas, flowering plants or heather plants are suitable for this. This procedure should be done after watering the plant, never on dry soil.
Pruning During flowering, take care of the plant more carefully and remove already dried inflorescences. In this way, not only will the azalea immediately look more beautiful, but it will also have more strength for the still existing inflorescences. After flowering, you should prune a little – shorten the protruding shoots by 2-3 cm so that the plant acquires a neat round or spherical shape. The lower branches of azaleas grow stronger than the upper ones, so they need to be pruned harder than those at the top.
After flowering. After flowering, the azalea should rest. Move it to a cool room, reduce watering, and place it in the garden or balcony in late spring. At the beginning of September, move the azalea back to a cool room (8-10 degrees), and when the flower buds appear, you can move it indoors. Soon you will be able to enjoy abundant flowering again.
Transplantation. Young plants are best transplanted annually, older plants – every 2-3 years. Do this in the spring, replacing the pot with a slightly larger one. It is best to use a special soil for azaleas, which is rich in acidic peat (pH 4.5-5.5) and rich in humus. To protect the roots from rotting, put a few centimeters of drainage layer (keramzite, pebbles, etc.) at the bottom.