Planting Native Azaleas

Planting Native Azaleas

When I went to Ireland, I fell in love with the rhododendron and azalea.

Azaleas at the Florence Court Estate in County Fermanagh, Ireland
Azaleas at the Florence Court Estate in County Fermanagh, Ireland

So we decided on mountain laurel, rhododendron and azalea for all around the new house. We went bought native azalea from Richard and Susan Mucci at Mountain Mist Nursery. My husband went to school with Richard Mucci.

Azaleas and the Heather House at the Florence Court Estate in County Fermanagh, Ireland
Azaleas and the Heather House at the Florence Court Estate in County Fermanagh, Ireland

Even though they are all native azalea, they are all different. They grow to different sizes, some are fragrant and some have pretty leaves in the fall.

I took a lot of time deciding where I wanted them. I am posting where I put each plant, so that once the tags are gone, I will remember what is where and why. It is pouring out right now and I don’t have most of the photos I need, so I will add them later.

Mountain Mist Nursery Native Azalea Planting Guide
Click to open bigger.

Native Azalea Planting Guide

Susan Mucci at Mountain Mist Nursery made sure we would know how best to plant native azalea. She gave us a planting guide.

The guide says to use half topsoil and half pine bark. Susan warned against putting them in too rich of soil. Since they are the kind of azalea that was wild, they thrive in the kind of soil in the woods. She illustrated the point by telling a story about someone who used potting soil and azalea fertilizer from Lowes. But, I don’t really remember the end of that story.

Our house is built on what was a cow pasture for years. The land is below flood and has had topsoil that has run off from up hill deposited here for a hundred years. We brought the land up where we built the house. But, before they added about 50 loads of fill, they scraped off the rich soil and saved it in huge piles, then pushed it back over the top after we got above flood zone level.

On one side, there is a steep mountain across the road. I just went over there and got buckets of pine mulch that was blocking a culvert and filling a drainage ditch after the floods and mixed that with some of the cow pasture top soil.

In Front of the House

Pinxter Azalea (R. periclymenoides)
Pinxter Azalea (R. periclymenoides)

I put in two of the Pinxter Azaleas. Pinxter Azaleas are fragrant and stay small, two to six feet tall.

One is at the front of the house by the front walk. The other one is on the right hand side on the wall with the guest room window.

Established Pinxter Azalea

This is what it will look like once it is more established.

By the walkway there is also an old fashioned rose bush, a camellia, and a mountain laurel that I transplanted from the other house. I hope it survives.

Florida Azalea (Rhododendron austrinum)
Florida Azalea (Rhododendron austrinum)

In front of the wall with the guest room window, the other Pinxter is on the left, an evergreen Camellia in the middle and the Florida Azalea on the right.

Florida Azalea is also fragrant. It gets taller, six to eight feet high, but there is more room here without blocking a window.

Samford Sorbet (Auburn Azalea Series) Photo from the Auburn Azaleas Website
Samford Sorbet Azalea (Auburn Azalea Series)
Photo from the Auburn Azaleas Website

We fenced in the side of the yard for Geordie, our dog. In front of the fence I put the Samford Sorbet Azalea. I don’t know much about it, except that it blooms early.

We also transplanted a dark red evergreen azalea from the log cabin. I hope it takes. It was where they are going to put in native plants for the Meadowbrook Terrace Streambank Restoration. So, hopefully we saved it.

Along Comet

We are the corner house. There are already some trees along the road on the side. I put azalea under the trees. They should get partial sun there and be happy.

Starting from the front.

Jake's Red (R. flammeum)
Jake’s Red Azalea (R. flammeum)

Jakes Red Azalea stays really small, no more than three feet high. It is the first one in front of the line of trees.

Walter Ligon (R. flammeum)
Walter Ligon Azalea (R. flammeum)

Next I put the Walter Ligon Azalea. It stays small, too, but not as small as the Jakes Red Azalea. It can get up to eight feet high, but is usually smaller.

Celandine or Wood Poppy
Celandine or Wood Poppy

Next we put in a Wood Poppy (Celandine). Susan Mucci gave it to us as a housewarming gift.

Do Poppies pop?
The hairy pods hold hundreds of tiny seeds. When they dry, they pop open throwing seeds in every direction.
It’s in the same plant family Papaveraceae as the opium poppies that grow by the yellow brick road. (42 genera, 775 known species)

Pinkshell Azalea (R. vaseyi)
Pinkshell Azalea (R. vaseyi)

A Pinkshell Azalea comes next. It can get very tall and is in a location where that would not cause any problems. We will be able to see it from the back porch.

Native Flame Azalea  (R. calendulaceum)
Native Flame Azalea  (R. calendulaceum)

Last by the road is a Flame Azalea. They usually stay around four to six feet high. That should be good. The leaves on this and the Pinkshell Azalea near it both have pretty fall colors.

Behind the House

There is what looks like a creek right behind the house. It runs for a few days every time it rains.

I planted two of the native azaleas just on the other side of that.

Cumberland Azalea (R. cumberlandense, R. bakeri) Photo by Sheila Neal
Cumberland Azalea (R. cumberlandense, R. bakeri)
Photo by Sheila Neal

The Cumberland Azalea is on the right. They stay low and spread, so that should be ideal there. Cumberland Azalea and Sweet Azalea bloom later than my other azalea, so it will be in bloom when we are spending time on the porch early in the summer. It’s also a location that gets more sun and this is the native azalea that prefers it.

Sweet Azalea flower, Scotts Run Nature Preserve, Fairfax county Virginia, USAPhoto by Fritz Flohr Reynolds
Sweet Azalea flower, Scotts Run Nature Preserve, Fairfax county Virginia, USAPhoto by Fritz Flohr Reynolds

I put the Sweet Azalea behind the porch on the other side of the waterway on the left. It blooms later too and likes sun.

I left the center empty. I want to take down the trees there, too. Then we will have a view right through and down the brook.

We bought all of these plants at Mountain Mist Nursery: www.mountainmist-nursery.com They can ship native azalea any state east of the Rocky Mountains.

Featured Image is by Fritz Flohr Reynolds.