June 25, 2009

Who Said That Azaleas Won't Grow in Chicago ?

'Karen' in May finery

I know I've posted about this outstanding azalea before but everytime I see her in full dress I want to let everyone know about it.

When customers at the garden center tell me they want an evergreen I suggest that they get a rhododendron or azalea because it gives extra interest with its lovely blooms. " I can't grow them, I have no luck with them, they're difficult to maintain, etc., etc. etc. " are the usual responses.

Since May this year was so cool and rainy I missed seeing the 'Karen ' azalea in full bloom in one of my client's gardens so they sent me the photo above.

'Karen' is an extremely hardy Gable hybrid , developed from R. kaempheri ( Japanese ) and R. poukhanense ( Korean ) and R. maxwelli ( American ). It's height ranges from 2-4 ' to 3-5 ' depending on conditions.

So you Azalea lovers out there that haven't succeeded with other varieties, I urge you to try ' Karen . ' You won't be disappointed.


  1. Hey, I always say...plants don't read! That's a glorious azalea indeed, and i'm glad to see it's blooming at the same time as many of the azaleas around here!

  2. It's funny, but I have never had trouble with azaleas. Maybe they just grow better in the South.

  3. Hey Jodi,
    Thanks for stopping by. Plants may not be able to read but did you see the one on the news that can blog? It's a houseplant in Tokyo that's hooked up to a computer that records its thoughts.

  4. Hi Mike from Tennessee and welcome. Mobile, Alabama is home to the famous Azalea Trails. Of course Azaleas grow better in the South. A lot of the varieties sold in garden centers struggle with the harsh Chicago winters and many fail to make it through so they have to be tough to survive here.


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