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Satsuki Azalea

Overview : The Satsuki Azalea (Rhododendron indicum) is a commonly used and quite popular subject for bonsai - admired for both its variety, hardiness and spectacular flowers which can be up to 12 cm (7 in) in diameter.

Azaleas are the most flamboyant of flowering shrubs, producing masses of bright flowers in late spring, with the exception of midsummer for Satsuki azaleas. Commonly, they flower in midwinter. Most popular of all bonsai are the evergreen Satsuki azaleas: many Japanese enthusiasts grow nothing else. There are untold numbers of Satsuki azaleas which are constantly hybridized in Japan and which are classified by the shape, size and colour pattern of the flowers.

Although shrubs in nature, azaleas can be trained into almost any style and with a defined trunk can be very easily trained into tree-like form. Most common styles are informal upright, windswept, slanting, semi-cascade, root over rock, tree on rock, multiple or twin trunk, raft and group.

General Care : In azaleas, it is always important to remove dead flowers and leaves as soon as possible. Annual growth must either be removed once flowering has finished or carefully trained to enhance the final structure. Prune secondary shoots more lightly until midsummer. Use lime-free soil mix: all plants in the rhododendron family need acid soil. Position in partial shade. Protect from frost and from heavy rain when in flower.

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