Darrell Blackwelder column: Native and deciduous azaleas are in full bloom

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2022

In many areas of rural Rowan County and on the shores of High Rock Lake, you may stumble across a very unique flowering shrub in bloom. Both native and deciduous azaleas are in full bloom across this region. There a few examples of this native flowering shrub at Hurley Park in Salisbury, near the east end of the park. The shrubs themselves are somewhat inconspicuous during the fall and the summer, but when spring arrives this unassuming native is aglow with beautiful, delicate flowers resembling a colorful honeysuckle bloom. The native azalea is in the rhododendron family (Rhododendron periclymenoides/nudiflorum) and can vary in flower color of white, pink or yellow. The flowers emerge early in April a few weeks before its foliage appears. This colorful native grows best in lightly shaded, wooded areas on well-drained soils.

The plants must have consistent moisture after planting, but are generally drought hardy after establishment. Newly developed cultivars of commercial deciduous azaleas are at local garden centers. Floral colors ranging from deep yellow to pink and orange can be implemented into your landscape. Be sure to keep an open eye for this plant as it will be fading soon. More detailed information can be found at https://extensiongardener.ces.ncsu.edu/extgardener-deciduous-azaleas-dazzle-with-color/

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired County Extension Director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.