Flowering shrubs commonly called azaleas belong to the Rhododendron genus; in particular, azaleas mollis are practically all deciduous rhododendrons, some of which are hybrids of the rhododendron molle species, also called azalea molle. These are some azalea varieties deriving from the deciduous azaleas of Asian origin, which are particularly characterized by the total loss of foliage in winter, and by the incredible color of the flowers, which goes from pale yellow to dark orange. Over the decades, various hybrids have been produced starting from botanical species, and in the nursery we can find dozens of varieties of azalea mollis, with very large flowers, white, yellow, orange, red or even pink; some varieties are very fragrant, especially the "newer" ones, since the first hybrids were completely free of perfume.
The shrubs are quite small, not too fast growing, and generally do not exceed two meters in height; the thin stems are fairly well branched, and carry, throughout the growing season, beautiful lanceolate leaves, light green in color, wrinkled and delicate; in autumn the leaves turn orange or golden yellow and fall, leaving the plant completely bare. In spring, the large buds swell on the completely leafless shrub, gathered in bunches, which will bloom before the plant produces the leaves, making the bloom even more showy.
Often in the nursery we tend to call any species or variety of deciduous azalea azalea, also because in Europe it is very likely that it is an azalea mollis, since most of the deciduous azaleas are of North American origin , and the botanical species of these azaleas are not easy to find on our continent. However, it can happen to find azalea varieties called mollis which are actually modern hybrids of azaleas of various types, not necessarily of soft azalea; in fact we can call azaleas all the azaleas that we find in the deciduous nursery, because in general they will all have the same cultivation needs, and therefore our error in naming the plant will not cause us any kind of problem in growing our beautiful azalea shrub orange.
Grow azaleas mollis
The shrubs of azalea mollis they are highly appreciated, not only and exclusively for their spectacular flowers, but also because in general they are quite less demanding than all the other azaleas, also enduring fairly long periods of drought, periods with very wet soil, very sunny positions, and the intense frost in winter. Since they are not evergreen plants, they are in complete vegetative rest throughout the winter, so they can endure frost, bad weather, snow and cold, without any problem.
They are planted in a good soil for acidophilic plants, possibly well rich, or with the addition of manure, and lightened with sand, perlite or pumice stone; for azaleas mollis it is good to choose a sunny corner of the garden, so that they enjoy a good bright position and direct sun for most of the day, taking care to protect them from the scorching sun on hot summer days.
They are watered only from March-April until October, when the soil is dry; they can endure the drought or the ground flooded with water, as long as they are not recurring or long lasting events; it is therefore good to water regularly, in order to avoid excessive stress on the plant; to ensure adequate fertilization, it is advisable to spread slow release granular fertilizer around the plant, so that it dissolves every time we water.