March 2019 Newsletter: Blooming Azaleas | Plants & Home Energy

Beautiful Blooming Azaleas!

Azaleas are starting to put on their show now and this is a great time to plant them!

Formosa Azalea varieties can reach heights and widths 5’-8’ if left unpruned and bloom large, clusters of flowers in abundance. The most popular varieties are G.G. Gerbing (white), Lavender Formosa (bright purple-pink), Red Formosa (red wine color) George Tabor (light pink with dark pink blotch), and Southern Charm (bright pink-purple). The mid size varieties that do well in our area are Fashion (salmon-pink). Azaleas bloom from the end of February through most of March.

Fashion azaleas will bloom heavy in spring and then sporadically up until winter. Azaleas prefer relief from the hot afternoon sun so areas that receive morning sun and afternoon shade, or, shifting, dappled light are perfect. They like soil on the acidic side and have a low salt tolerance. They don’t like sandy soil so incorporate potting soil and mushroom compost in the planting hole.

Camellias are STILL blooming from winter! If you have a shady or dappled light area and need a larger growing, cold hardy blooming shrub Japonica Camellia is the perfect plant. Flowers are large and showy and range from red to different shades of pinks.

Planting & Home Energy

What you plant and where you plant outside your home can have a major impact on the amount of energy you use to heat and cool the inside of your home.

The goal is to block summer sun and winter winds and to allow access to winter sun and summer breezes.

In the summer, the sun rises in the northeast and sets in the northwest. In the morning, the sun’s rays are almost perpendicular to the east wall, so there is maximum heat absorption. However, the air and the house are not heated significantly because of the cooling that took place overnight. For this reason, tree plantings are probably not necessary to shade the east wall.

The south wall receives full radiation between 11 a.m. and noon, but the sun hits the wall at such a steep angle that the amount of heat absorbed is much less than might be expected. In general, the use of trees to shade the south wall is not effective because the shadow cast is minimal. A roof overhang does a much better job.

For most of the afternoon, the west wall receives the same exposure that the east wall did earlier. However, now the sun is at maximum heating capacity, the air is hot, and the house has lost its coolness. If there is space for only one tree to protect the west wall, place it up to 25 feet from the house on a line between the 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. sun positions.

In the winter, sunrise is in the southeast and sunset in the southwest. The south wall receives nearly all of the winter’s day sun. If you plant a tree on the south wall, make sure it is a deciduous tree, which loses it leaves in the all. The sun can shine through the leafless branches during the winter.

Crape Myrtles are beautiful medium sized trees that are perfect for shading hot walls, windows and sliding glass doors.

Deciduous in winter allowing the sun to warm the home, lush green foliage emerges in spring and by the end of May a spectacular display of large, clustered flowers.

Other medium sized trees that can be planted are East Palatka or Dahoon Holly, Little Gem Magnolia, Japanese Loquat, Ligustrum, Weeping Yaupon Holly, Cherry Laurel, Bottlebrush and Fruit trees.