Sunday, March 4, 2012

Azalea President Arcilla - Feb 23, 2012
Immature Azalea seed pods
The azaleas have gone to seed.  I'm ready for them.  I looked it so I know what to do and I've gotten my supplies together.  I'm also going to try an experiment with it at the same time.  Let's talk a little about azaleas first.  Azaleas are slow growers from the rhododendron family that prefer acidic soil.  This is why they get a special fertilizer made just for them and their friends.  There are over 10,000 kinds of azaleas so it's important to label your  seeds to the kind of azalea you have.  I always try to save the store tags when I buy my plants.  I wonder if I'm distantly related to Minnie Pearl?  Originally cultivated by monks, this ancient plant is the national flower of Nepal and do well in zones 5 to 9.  They can still be grown in the outlying zones if you protect them from the extreme heat and cold by keep them in containers and bring them inside when necessary to protect them.  Use your common sense as always.  Hot, full sun will bleach out the vivid colors and can even burn the leaves if you are in a very hot  zone.  In those hot zones, you might want to consider dappled sunlight beneath a red oak tree.  There's no sense putting it beneath a bottle brush tree where they'd be competing with each other for a passerby's attention.  So back to the seed thing.   You know it's been on my mind if you've been reading my posts.  Everything I've read tells me the seeds are kept in pods.  The pods not so easy to find.  I took a couple photos to show you what they look like at both the immature and mature stages. 

Mature Azalea seed pod
The mature pod comes out easily while the immature pod must be pinched out.  I collected all of the the mature pods and some of the immature seed pods for an experiment to see if they would mature off of the plant.   The mature seed pods will be kept in a clear, plastic container and the immature pods in an envelope so the air can circulate and they won't become fuzzy and rotten (like Josh's bean seeds).         
Below you can see the final results of my labors.

Completed Azalea Seed Project
Collected Azalea Seeds
Let's talk a little bit about orchids.  I am one of those crazy orchid ladies.  I have these orchids all over the lanai (screened in patio).  I ordered a bunch of little teeny baby ones last year and they came wrapped in newspaper.  
Budding Phalenopsis & problem orchid
Cymbidium with buds - $25 special

2 Vandas & Cattleya (center)
 I also have a $25 special from the grocery store that's over 4 feet tall - my Cymbidium.   The crazy Phalenopsis that I got with the wrinkled leaves that was so unhealthy and just won't die but keeps on blooming from the same 2 stems is nuttier than a fruitcake - compliments of Lowes.  I keep looking for these stems to die off and new stems to grow but that just never happens.  My problem orchid is a problem because I lost the label a long time ago and I can't remember what it is and my grandsons and cat pulled it out of the planting medium more than once or twice and I just finally pulled it out of everyone's reach.  
I wanted to close today's post with something new and exciting.  A few days ago I posted your plant zone but it was for your cold zone.  I have now found another zonal map for heat zones.  This is brand new and cool and tells you how many days your area has over 86 degrees Fahrenheit.  Zone 1 has less than 1 while Zone 12 has more than 210 days over 86 degrees.  In addition, the link will bring you to not only the map, but American Gardener. 

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