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Silver Sword azalea -- Hardiness?

Posted by HardrockKid z6 (PA) (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 11, 05 at 18:29

Anyone know anything definate about "Silver Sword" hardiness -- including bud hardiness? (The foliage is pretty... but not enough to grow it if the buds are going to freeze!).

I saw it for sale here in zone 6... looked at the tag, and it said zone 7! Strange, I thought... and pointed it out to someone there, who of course knew little and said something nonsensical.

Poking around the web, I have seen quite a range of hardiness listed.

So maybe it is not definately established. And maybe I'll have to try it and see. But -- I'm hoping maybe some wise folks around here might know!

[And since I *want* to grow it, please respond with something like: "Oh, it blooms every year for me here in zone 4!" :) ]

(BTW, I do plan to use it in a foundation planting around the front porch. So I might have some micro-climate advantage there)

Thakns for any info!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Silver Sword azalea -- Hardiness?

No, it doesn't 'blooms every year for me here in zone 4!', but it blooms RELIABLY after the last three winters (including the especially harsh winter of 2004) here in a warmer end of zone 6. I have 13 total between 'Silver Sword' and 'Arctic Pink' planted in a different aspects, some of them pretty open, and so far had no hardiness problem.
Only ocassional problem I experienced is a pure green branch one or another throwing from time to time. Those should be removed promptly to the base.
Otherwise it's by far my favorite Girard's hybrid.



It is semi-deciduous for me, meaning that only top whorl of the leaves remains during the winter.

RE: Silver Sword azalea -- Hardiness?

OK, you talked me into it! :)

(Although I am at the cold end of Z6. In fact, many people around here believe it to be Z5... but we have not seen -10 [I don't think even -5] in any of the 6 winters I've been here.)

Interesting that Silver Sword loses most of its leaves for you. I remember thinking when I saw it (which was a few months back) that the leaves looked more like deciduous than evergreen. That's actually a bit of a negative for me, because I did want something evergreen in the spot I have in mind. Does it take long to leaf out and look full in the spring? And it does form flower buds the summer before? If so, I guess the buds must be more cold-tolerant than the leaves, since it is flowering for you.

BTW, very nice looking woodland planting there. Is that an azalea growing right up to the base of that tree in the top picture? (or maybe a rhodie? Tough to tell from the distance) That has to be some rough territory under there. The bark looks like the tree is a conifer (although can't really tell)... but either way, under its branches must be mighty dry turf! But the shrub looks nice and healthy. Was it tough to get established?

And thanks for the SS info.

- Kid

RE: Silver Sword azalea -- Hardiness?

"Does it take long to leaf out and look full in the spring?"

Buds start coloring before it fully leaf out

then flowers explode and plant become completely covered by flowers, so you see no foliage (as in the pic.1).
When flowers are gone (about 3 weeks in part shade and 2 weeks in part sun) SS will be fully leaf out and stays the way you see it in the pic.2 till October, when leaf starting to change to winter color as you see in the pic.3.

Picture above better show the whole set up. On a right side of the tree you can see in background large very old and leggy Forsythia underplanted by PJMs. In order to get those rhodies planted there I had to raise the soil level (rocks were used as a retaining wall) by 6" and water them the whole first year every other day. On a left side of the tree was a natural 'valley' between two exposed tree's roots which I filled with a soil and planted hydrangea Preziosa.

RE: Silver Sword azalea -- Hardiness?

A follow-up: Silver Sword bloomed nicely for me this spring! Although it was pinkier than the brilliant scarlet red it sported at the nursery last year.

Although our winter was very warm, SS flowering in its first year leaves me pretty comfortable with this cultivar as Z6 OK (I actually had a Girard's Crimson that did not flower... although in fairness, it was planted later than the SS).

RE: Silver Sword azalea -- Hardiness?

Silver Sword and Arctic Pink are identical in hardiness, habit and in leaves. The only difference is that SS has a bright red flowers and AP rosy-red ones.
They are often mislabeled in commerce, so yours might be an AP, not a SS.
In any event, it's a great small azalea.
Watch for azalea gull due to the fact that all Girard's hybrids are very succeptible to this desease.

RE: Silver Sword azalea -- Hardiness?

It is azalea gall. Enlarged, crabapple-like, green or pinkish galls on young leaves and flowers are caused by Exobasidium leaf and flower gall. The galls become hard and turn white and eventually brown. It is most common of evergreen azaleas. Fungicides seldom provide control. Sanitation and warm dry conditions reduce infestation. For best control, start spraying in the early spring with Ferban or Bordeaux. It is seldom considered serious.

RE: Silver Sword azalea -- Hardiness?

I found these on sale at Home Depot for 4.00. Will give them a try for this price.

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