narrow upright azaleas???

katob Z6ish, NE PaOctober 31, 2005

Hi, just looking for some plant suggestions..... Currently I have a privet hedge, but I'd like to replace part of it with some small trees and then an underplanting of new shade tolerant hedge plants. I was thinking some type of azalea might work, but I'd like something narrow and tall (is five feet too tall to ask for?). It would be nicer if I didn't have to do much pruning, but it's not really a huge factor, I don't mind..... it's just that if there's an azalea I can use I wouldn't want to keep pruning off all the flower buds.

Any ideas? Should I drop the azalea idea? I'm not looking for a really neat or a perfect hedge, just something that's interesting most of the year and is happy growing under these conditions (part shade, decent moist soil, narrow space)...


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peachiekean(z10A CA)

I'm not from PA but would love to be able to grow rhododendrens. Aren't they larger than azaleas?

    Bookmark   November 6, 2005 at 10:33PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Most azaleas are not hardy enough for you. However, there is a group of hardy small leaved deciduous azaleas called Northern Lights. This is a series of hybrid azaleas being developed and released by the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Any azalea released and included in this series will have flower bud hardiness of -30 degrees to -45 degrees F to withstand Minnesota winters.

There are many small leaved rhododendrons that are hardy and look like azaleas. They are PJM rhododendrons. P.J.M. rhododendrons are hybrids resulting from crossing Rhododendron carolinianum and Rhododendron dauricum. They are evergreen rhododendrons that have very attractive small dark green leaves. They are very hardy (-35 degrees F) and prefers a sandy soil to a clay soil. P.J.M. are the initials of P.J. Mezitt, the hybridizer of these cultivars. There are several promising selections in this group of evergreen rhododendrons that have been named.

Both the PJM rhododendrons and the Norther Lights azaleas tend to be upright growing plants. The trick to not pruning off the flowers is to prune rhododendrons and azaleas immediately after they bloom in the spring. If you wait until summer or later you will be removing the next season's flowers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Northern Lights Azaleas

    Bookmark   November 7, 2005 at 12:58PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

Thanks for the responses, I spent a while on the U of Minn. website for the Northern Lights azaleas. I think I'm going to pick one or two out and give them a try if I can find them for a reasonable price. I really like the types that look a little more like the species azaleas, I didn't think they would be as hardy as they are and some of them are fragrant too!
I like the PJM rhodies, but more so in other people's yards not mine. I don't know why.... they are so hardy and bloom so early but the color doesn't do anything for me. I'll have plenty to keep me busy exploring the other suggestions. Thanks

    Bookmark   November 9, 2005 at 8:03PM
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Birdsong72(7/Northshore NJ)

To me it isn't advisable to use azaleas or rhodies for a hedge since if you're looking for a coverage hedge and you'll end up pruning what will be flowerbuds.

Far more preferable would be Blue hollies (blueboy/bluegirls). Ilex glabras will also fit the bill.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2005 at 11:37AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

In Japan they have countless azalea hedges. They still flower beautifully because they prune immediately after the bloom fades. This way they do not remove the flower buds. They do touch up the hedges in mid summer and the fall, but are careful to leave enough buds for a nice show the next spring.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 5:21PM
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I've seen azalea hedges (and currently working on one myself) and found them extremely showy and interesting.
As rhodyman correctly pointed out, 'touch up' is the key.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2005 at 7:13PM
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katob Z6ish, NE Pa

What do you think.... one color/variety or a mix? When I think of a mix I always picture overgrown foundation plantings that a sheared into lumps. I might have to go with a very informal hedge of similar colors. I wonder how some kind of exbury type hedge would look. I could do a "sunset" hedge with oranges, reds and yellows.

Can you tell that we finally got some cold weather here (20's)? I'm inside for the winter and spend way too much time looking out windows and thinking.....

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 9:18AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Be careful when you mix plants in a planting such as a hedge. They aren't all the same height, same shape, and don't all bloom at the same time. If you want a mass of blooms then make sure they have the same blooming time and height and growth habit. You can also plant for a sequence of bloom. Whatever you want.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 12:26PM
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I wouldn't go with a mix for a hedge.
It would be difficult to impossible to make it uniform.
Naturalistic planting is where you could/should plant different heights, colors, habits and bloom time:

Note the hedge of the "Pleasant White' in a back, the only azalea in this planting that see pruners from time to time.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2005 at 1:34PM
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