Zone 5 Indianapolis, IN.
Looking for help deciding on which type of azalea to plant - Evergreen or Deciduous.
Which would/do you plant and why.
Thanks in advance for all responses.
There are not many 'semi-evergreen' azaleas hardy to Zone 5. There are many more hardy 'decidious' azaleas including many of the eastern natives.
I'm with WAPlummer. I plant deciduous azaleas because that's what's hardy here. I did try planting one evergreen azalea that is supposed to be one of the hardiest available (Stewartstown) and it survived and the plant looked fine, but the only flowers were below snow line, so it looked pretty unattractive. If I want evergreen foliage I plant rhododendrons.
I have a fairly large amount of land, so I plant my deciduous azaleas where the spring and summer flowers will be seen and smelled and the autumn foliage colors can be enjoyed, but the twiggy winter plants won't be front and center or a main feature. Often they are at woodland edges or with evergreen backgrounds so that other things grab attention when the dec. azaleas aren't looking outstanding.
Plant both! Here in SE MI, 'Herbert' and 'Karens' have been rock solid. As Waplummer mentioned, up here the "evergreen" azaleas are actually "semi". No matter, they put on new foliage in the spring and look good until the very dead of January.
The deciduous azaleas have several things going for them, in my opinion:
1. Many of them have large trusses in outrageous colors.
2. Most of them can grow quite tall, even at my latitude.
3. They are smart enough to drop their leaves in the fall, thereby avoiding winter desiccation.
If you like the look of evergreen azaleas, consider also the lepidotes--small-leaved rhodies. Many are very cold hardy, and have foliage similar to the evergreen azaleas. This spring I put in 'Olga Mezzit', 'Faisa', April Snow', and 'Landmark'. All are doing great, and my local rhodie veterans give them a thumbs-up for cold-hardiness.