It is a misconception that all azaleas need shade. Sun-loving perennial azaleas have been around for centuries. The Dutch East India Co. developed one strain in particular, the Southern Indica. The Dutch realized the market opportunity for sun-loving azaleas that could survive in the sun and hot climate to decorate the antebellum homes of the wealthy plantation owners in the United States. This is one historical reason why azaleas are iconic plantings in Southern landscapes today.
Coral Bells (Azalea "Coral Bells") bears hose-in-hose flowers, meaning there are two sets of flowers, one within the other. Coral Bells is also referred to as Kirin. It is a sun-loving evergreen native to Japan. Coral Bells is a low-spreading azalea that flowers in spring with very showy, coral-pink flowers and small, evergreen leaves. Landscape uses include borders, containers and adding color to woodland garden settings. Keep the soil moist, especially during the first year of planting to establish a deep root system. Coral Bells reaches a mature height of 2 to 4 feet and spreads 3 to 5 feet wide. It is cold hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 6 to 9.
George L. Taber
George L. Taber (A. "George L. Taber") belongs to the Southern Indica category. Its midspring blooming flowers are light lavender with delicate, white stripes. George is a tall grower, reaching a height of 8 feet, with a width of 4 to 5 feet. This makes it a good specimen for a planting to border a home or to create a row of hedges. It is tall enough to create a privacy screen for a patio or backyard setting, since the foliage stays green all year. George L. Taber is cold hardy through USDA zones 8 to 9.
The Imperial Queen (Azalea "Monal") is another sun-loving Southern Indica azalea. It is a good selection for giving a garden an Asian or Zenlike style. The Imperial Queen grows 4 to 6 feet in both height and width. The plant blooms with double pink flowers, primarily in spring, but may bloom other times of the year. This azalea grows in a mounding form, which makes is a good choice for a hedge, screen or massed with several plants to make a statement. Imperial Queen is cold hardy through USDA zones 8 to 11. Consider companion plantings such as the Japanese maple or cherry blossom tree.
The L.J. Bobbink (Azalea 'L.J. Bobbink') is a hybrid with white flowers, blushed with hints of a pinkish-lavender color. L.J. is a spreading, sun-loving evergreen and a popular choice for hedges and mass plantings. The evergreen foliage is a deep green color. Like Imperial Queen, it is also a good choice for an Asian-inspired landscape design. L.J. Bobbink grows 6 to 8 feet tall and wide and is cold hardy to zones 8 and 9.
- Azalea Society of America: Growing Azaleas
- NC State University; Azaleas for North Carolina; M.A. "Kim" Powell; June 1992
- RareFind Nursery: Evergreen Azaleas
- The Telegraph; How to Grow Japanese Azalea 'Kirin'; Val Vourne; March 27, 2010
- TJHSST: The Asian Influence In My Garden
- Monrovia: George L. Taber Azalea
- Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images