I was wandering through the garden section and came upon two 4 inch pots with a plant I didn’t recognize. The tag said it was an azalea but I was dubious. It had a single stalk which wasn’t woody at all. I had never seen an azalea that small. Intrigued, I bought both of them. They grew quicker than I expected and one did very well while the other grew but never looked healthy. I had planted the one in a location where it got too much sun and the drainage wasn’t that good. After a few years I just gave up and tossed it. However, the other one I planted in just the right place. It is on the north side of the house where it is always shaded. Our outdoor water faucet is nearby so it also gets any water that leaks out when I’m watering.
I love this azalea for its color and hardiness in zone 5. In the winter we use it as an outdoor thermometer. The leaves curl up tightly when the temperatures get to freezing so just a quick look out the window tells us whether the temps are freezing or not. By the middle of March it starts putting out large buds that open to lovely pinkish lavendar flowers around the first week in April.
My tiny plant now reaches to the window and has spread to about 4 feet in width. Last year I noticed that it seemed to be spreading out further to the north where it was not shaded as well from the house. On closer examination I noticed that some of the limbs appeared to be coming out of the ground rather than just extending from the original trunk. I took a chance and tried digging them up. Amazingly, it worked. I removed three smaller bushes from the parent bush. I placed one to the east of the parent plant to extend the display. I planted the other two on the west side of my house. They have all survived the winter and I am looking forward to an even larger display next spring.