Azalea 'Mother's Day'
"Even on the road to hell,
flowers can make you smile."
modern Taoist master
Here's a pleasant azalea Granny Artemis & I picked up at the Rhododendron Species Foundation's Annual Spring Plant Sale a few years ago. We planted it near the Cedar of Lebanon & next to a large, deciduous White Throat azalea where it thrived for a few years.
Other shrubs & pernnials over time hemmed it in olver time, & the cedar got much larger, & it was the first rhododendron I ever had that was attacked by fungus galls. I removed & destroyed the galls, & transplanted 'Mother's Day' in a somewhat sunnier less persistantly damp location, & the galls almost immediately stopped deforming on the leaves.
It gets listed both as Rhododendron 'Mother's Day' & as Azalea 'Mother's Day,' & is a Kurume azalea hybrid derived from 'Honode-giri,' with the same bright crimson flower of 'Honode-giri,' & of the even-smaller-leafed Kurume, the justly famous 'Hino Crimson.'
I saw a review of Mother's Day that warned it was bred to be easily "forced" to bloom in greenhouses, specifically to be readied for Mother's Day sales, the day when nurseries sell more plants than for any other single day of the year. The review claimed that easily forced azaleas are not as garden-hardy as those which bloom on their own natural time. The easily overcome experience with gall notwithstanding, this hasn't been our experience, & all other overviews of 'Mother's Day' Azalea prize it as a hardy easily cared for shrub that blooms before Mother's Day but is still blooming when that holiday is done. It was given a Horticultural Commendation by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Kurumes tend to be upright twiggy azaleas with dense evergreen leaves & small flowers. They're cold-hardy & most Kurumes like about half shade, half sun, though the 'Mother's Day' azalea is fond of full sun in zones that aren't too warm, though it will certainly tolerate some shade. The ideal condition would be moist well-drained acidic soil in temperate weather, but it is forgiving of conditions less than ideal just so long as the soil isn't alkaline or too dry or salty or the location too windy.
'Mother's Day' blooms in our yard from mid-April until well into May, lasting a full month. The close-up photo was taken in April, the second photo in May.
The dark red flowers are rather mixed, some being semi-doubles & others being "hose-in-hose" which means the interior sepals are the same color as the petals, giving the impression of a smaller flower inside the main flower. The leaves are small, but this shrub is no dwarf. It can grow to seven feet tall & wide in ten years. But as the growth rate is fairly slow, ours at under three feet will be small for a good while yet to come.
In winter the leaves are burgandy so that the shrub is very winning year-round.
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