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The iridescent deciduous azaleas.

The iridescent deciduous azaleas

At some nurseries in northern California this month, you may see these unfamiliar azaleas in bloom. Common back East and in the Northwest, these are deciduous.

The picture shows a nursery plant in full bloom. All leaves drop in fall after turning gold or purplish red; flowers--in a wider range of colors than evergreen azaleas-- emerge just before leaves in spring. The result is a few varieties with gold to nearly pure yellow flowers and many with iridescent reds and oranges. Now, while plants are in bloom, is a good time to shop.

You can grow deciduous azaleas as you would evergreen kinds--in well-drained acid soil in a spot that gets morning sun. Plants also do fine in containers and raised beds.

In the garden, plant on a mound in the middle or back or shrub borders; there, the bare branches won't be distracting in winter but flowers will be visible in spring. Plants grow 4 to 6 feet high within six years; plants in 2-gallon containers cost $13 to $18.

At nurseries, look for 'Cannon's Double', golden yellow with orange blotch; 'Golden Flare', yellow with reddish orange blotch; 'Klondyke', orange with orange-yellow blotch; 'Orchid Lights', soft lilac; 'Sunset Pink', red with yellow blotch; and fragrant 'White Lights', white petals with yellow center.

If you can't find deciduous azaleas at your nursery, visit, write, or call Sonoma Horticultural Nursery, 3970 Azalea Ave., Sebastopol, Calif. 95472; (707) 823-6832. Catalog costs $2.

Photo: Leafless bloomer, this azalea in 3-gallon pot sports bright yellow flowers in tight, rhododendron-like trusses
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1988
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