Found in large quantities and a wide-range of colors throughout winter and spring, this is the florist’s azalea, also called Indian azalea. It gives a spectacular display, with a succession of flowers over a period of about six weeks.
They are in shades of white, pink, red, or purple, or a combination. Individual blooms last several days and should be removed as they fade to ensure continued production. Buy a plant with only a few open blooms (to ascertain the color) but plenty of buds as this will ensure the maximum display. R. simsii originates in northeast Burma, China and Taiwan.
Size: Height 12—18 in. (30—45 cm).
Light: Cool light.
Temperature: Keep cool; 45—60°F (7-15°C).
Moisture: In order to thrive this plant needs to be kept wet, not just moist.
Feeding: Provide standard liquid fertilizer every two weeks in spring and summer, then once a month in fall.
Propagation: Take 2 in. (5 cm) tip cuttings in late spring from the new growth. Use rooting hormone and an acidic, peat moss-enriched soil mix.
Special needs: Remove only the petals of the faded flower when deadheading, as the new shoots that follow the flowers arise from the same point on the stem — cutting off the whole flower head will remove the shoot buds too. This is an acid-loving plant which may suffer if watered with hard tap water. Using rainwater will help if the leaves start to turn yellow (chlorosis), as will repotting, after flowering, into an acidic, peat moss-enriched soil.