"Red Ruffles" (Azalea "Red Ruffles") is a dwarf Rutherford hybrid that typically grows to a mature height of between 2 and 4 feet, with a similar spread. The evergreen shrub is notable for its showy single or semi-double, frilled flowers, which are deep red. Rutherford hybrids are a mix between Rutherfordiana simssii and Rutherfordiana indicum that were created in New Jersey in the 1920s.
"Red Ruffles" is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 and 9, where it grows best in filtered sunlight or partial shade. The Virginia Cooperative Extension recommends choosing a sloping north- or east-facing site, as this will provide the shrub from protection against hot, drying southern and western winds. If a slope is not available, plant "Red Ruffles" in front of a building, fence or evergreen shrub to give it some protection.
Azaleas are acid loving plants that do best with a soil pH between 4.5 and 6.0. Average garden soil may be fine if it is amended with organic matter such as well-rotted manure and then mulched with shredded leaves, pine straw or compost. If the shrub shows signs of nutrient deficiency, such as stunted growth or yellowing leaves, fertilize with up to 2 pounds of a slow release 12-4-8 or 15-5-15 fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants, applied over 100 square feet.
Like other azaleas, "Red Ruffles" is a shallow-rooted plant that is not at all tolerant of drought or flooding. The shrub should be watered regularly, especially during periods of drought. Due to the compact size of "Red Ruffles," pruning is only necessary to remove dead, broken or diseased growth. S & J Nursery recommends pruning once a year, if you prefer a height closer to 2 feet or want a more angular shrub shape.
Thanks to its compact size, "Red Ruffles" is excellent for small gardens and tight borders. The plant is tolerant of containers, as long as there is a hole in the bottom for drainage, and will attract butterflies with its bright blooms. Monrovia suggests planting the shrub next to large foliage plants or mixing the shrub with white or blue flowered perennials to achieve a patriotic look. The evergreen shrub is useful as a foundation plant, as it will hide the structure with greenery all year long.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images