Plants

Azalea

Ornamental plants

Human beings have always tried to grasp as many positive things as possible from nature; it is an almost obligatory path given that nature is our Mother Creator and therefore our long evolution (even if the same adjective cannot be used if we then compare it to the evolution of plants, insects or other animals more long-lived than we humans) took place all in his arms. Among the many things that we have taken or tried to take from nature (food, primordial clothes, houses and places of shelter in general), there is the pleasure of using plants to furnish and perfume the environments in which we live every day. This custom began to develop when man clearly evolved almost definitively and organized into civilization, shifting the center of gravity of his life from wild nature to the first city purposes; in this precise historical moment the concept of ornamental plants was born, that is the selection of the best species of plants to have at home. This selection is not only of an aesthetic type, although it is an important aspect, as the plants do not all have the same type of resistance far from their habitats, so it was necessary to select which were the most suitable for living “in captivity”.

Azalea


Azalea is one of the most suitable ornamental plants to live in our apartments, obviously considering the minimum conditions that must be guaranteed otherwise it will quickly take a bad turn. It is a plant of the Rhododendron genus (it is the name of another common flower, with the related azalea), native to the American continent and to what was once called Eurasia, or the macro-continent composed of Europe and Asia ( it is in fact an almost continuous strip of emerged land). But why did the azalea acquire this privileged status as an ornamental plant? It is a species considered “rustic”, where with this name we mean those species of plants with a stronger and more adaptable nature, or with the ability to live even outside their classic habitat. Many of us always deal with rustic plants so they do not consider the possibility that a plant may not adapt, but in reality so and instead the azalea is very capable of it. The distinction between azalea and rhododendron is mainly due to the flowers, which in rhododendrons are large, while the azalea has small flowers gathered in clusters or bundles, usually in a variable number between four and seven elements.

Structure and curiosity

The azalea plantit presents itself in a very ornamental way by nature, because its classic shape is shrubby with a small central slightly woody stem, surrounded by twigs and stems that support the little gazettes of colorful flowers that we have already mentioned. The leaves of the azalea contribute to the general image, which are part of its myth and which are slightly lanceolate but above all colored in a truly brilliant green. Speaking of colors, azalea flowers are uniformly colored with soft and delicate shades of shades such as white, pink, red and magenta. In ancient populations and civilizations, the azalea was also known for its sweet and nutritious nectar; in reality it is the lymph contained in the stems, but the name “nectar” has always evoked in ancient peoples something good obtained from plants (grape nectar was the Roman denomination of wine). The problem arose several times when people were poisoned after taking azalea nectar; Modern scientific studies have discovered that all azaleas have sap, but that some particular species have sap that is poisonous to humans, and this must have been the cause of azalea poisoning that history testifies to us (Pliny in particular, especially with anecdotes about armies).

Cultivation and care

The care of the azalea is simple if you know the principles on the basis of which it can be kept in the apartment; let’s say immediately that of the large number of azaleas, some can be classified as “rustic” and others not. In the latter case the only solution is to cultivate these plants in a greenhouse, to recreate a climate that is almost strictly adherent to the climate of the natural habitat. For rustic azaleas the only real precaution to keep is to ensure that their exposure to sunlight is never direct (the sun would quickly burn both the flowers and the leaves of this plant, all however slender structures), so if they are kept near a window you have to make sure that either it is oriented towards the north (the sun never passes through the north, but finding a window facing this cardinal point is a bit strange as it is almost useless for lighting) or that there is a curtain of a certain thickness. Similarly, however, this fateful window must often be opened, because the azalea wants more than enough air exchange, both to avoid water stagnation and to have its own necessary exchange.

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