Exploring azaleas in our yard.

Last week, we took advantage of the last bright breath of the azaleas to learn more about the kinds that grow in our yard.

It all started when the girls picked a few large bouquets of azaleas and offered them to us as a gift. So we put each kind a different glass bottle with a little bit of water. Obviously, the azaleas were looked different from one another, so Max decided to try and identify them.

His Guide to North American Wildflowers wasn’t very helpful since most of the plants were cultivated, probably purchased from a local nursery by those who owned the castle before us. So we turned to the native azalea cheatsheat in the hopes of finding more.

And then we did the unthinkable- we put off identifying our azalea friends in the interest of learning more about their anatomy and reproduction. Max wanted to see if our azaleas had all their “flower parts” so he could determine if they were perfect or imperfect flowers.

Lest you forget, dissecting flowers is the easiest way to really learn flower parts and distinguish between perfect and imperfect flowers. We also tried to determine the specific “flower shape” of our three azaleas.

Max reminded me that we could only really see the ovules, as “the ovaries are the eggs and they are teeny tiny before they become fruits”.

Max got interested in the petal shapes and spent quite a bit of time trying to decide which petal margins were ruffled and which were wavy. I think I know why they never taught us this stuff in school….. it’s not as easy as it appears to classify azaleas.

Azaleas Handout (PDF)

Using the azalea handout above, Max noted the differences in our azalea friends. We took notes and hope to head over to the Arboretum for some help later this week.

More azalea handouts and PDF printables:

Guide to Azaleas (Alabama Cooperative Extension)
Azalea Origami How-To
Azalea Bonsai (New Englad Bonsai Gardens)
Azalea Culture for Georgia Gardens (Your Southern Gardern)
Azalea Lace Bug Handout (OSU)
Evergreen Azalea Handout (Virginia Tech)
Azalea Leaf and Flower Gall Handout (University of Arkansas)
Indian Azalea Handout
Azalea Toxicity in Goats (Small Ruminant Ramblings)
Azalea and Rhododendron Diseases (Clemson)