WINTER COLORS FOR AZALEAS

Living in the Heart of Dixie does not afford one a chance to see a lot of fall color on trees.  Most of the time it does not really start getting cold until November and most of the bonsai like maples and elms are tired and the leaves just turn brown and crispy, then just fall off.  Sometimes we have a few cold snaps in October and we get some color, but never like you see in the Northern climates.

This time of the year, azaleas start showing their colors.  I know that most of the time we think of azaleas as evergreen.  It is true, there are azaleas that are completely deciduous, but the azaleas that we commonly use as bonsai are what I like to call semi-evergreen.  Most, if not all, of them lose some of thier leaves.  I was out looking around the garden today and took pictures of a few examples.

First up, we have this twin trunk style.  I don't know the cultivar, but notice the nice yellow color of some of the leaves.
A closer look shows that the inner leaves are the ones that have turned yellow, these are the summer foliage.  The tree puts these out to generate the extra energy that it will need in the summer for growing.  They will eventually fall off and all that will be left will be the four or five leaves around the flower bud.
Next we have another unkown variety, when it blooms it has nice hose in hose red fowers.  Its winter foliage is a nice scarlet red.
We now have a Kurume Azalea, Hino-Crimson.  This one is smaller than it appears, it is shohin size, about 7 - 8 inches tall.  The leaves on this variety turn yellow to orange to red.
Another unknown, but I think that it is a Kurume.  It has really nice, bright pink, hose in hose flowers.
Next we have an Indica, I don't know the cultivar, but it has light purple flowers.  This particular azalea is the one that I have that is closest to being completely deciduous, it looses all of its leaves except for two or three around the terminal bud.
Satsuki Momo no Haru makes a nice cascade style bonsai due to its spreading, low growth habit.  It also blooms throughout the year with purpleish - pink flowers.
Next showing off its winter colors is a Satsuki called Myuki that I got in trade from a friend on my favorite bonsai foum, www.bonsainut.com.
Lastly, an unknown variety that is putting on a winter show all of its own, it has decided to flower and show off its winter leaves.
Well, that's about it.  If you did not notice, there is kinda a pattern to it all.  Azaleas with red, dark purple, or dark pink folwers will have a red color winter foliage.  Those with yellow winter foliage will have white or lighter colored flowers as will most of the multicolred Satsukis that I have.  So, if you buy an unknown in the winter, you can get an idea of what color the flowers will be.

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