Southern indica azaleas are the old spring blooming varieties, the ones around the old southern mansions, the ones that were hedges around the old homes on the Houston River Oaks azalea trail.
For a few years they were out of favor. A new group of azaleas displaced them, Encore azaleas, the repeat bloomers. One of our better wholesale growers even stopped growing the old indica varieties. It turns out they still have a valuable place in the landscape. The developers of the newer varieties of azaleas have made some trade offs to get repeat blooming. Many of the newer azalea varieties are not good in the shade, do not recover if they get too dry, and seem to become thin and open at the slightest provocation. That being said, the new repeat bloomers like the encores do outsell the indica azaleas by ten to one, because they do bloom and bloom and bloom.
Indica azaleas set their buds in June, so you don’t want to trim or fertilize them after that. The old complaint about indica azaleas is that they only bloom for a month or so. But when they are in bloom for that month, spectacular! If they are planted correctly, in a raised bed, and if they are watered daily the first summer or two, and if you fertilize at the right time of year, they make very attractive low maintenance specimen shrubs or hedges. 3 to 10 feet tall hedges that have a massive number of blooms for a month.
On older well-established azaleas, the number one cause of damage, and death is too much mulch. Azaleas do not like thick layers of mulch. A few of the Indica azaleas we will have this year are:Formosa, the most common old azalea around here, are deep rose-purple pink.
Judge Solomon, large pink blooms
Mrs G. G. Gerbing, features white blooms
George L. Tabor, light pink (see photos on right in order).