Lucky Lady azalea is an Exbury hybrid. It is a deciduous azalea with pure crimson red flowers.
On overcast days or in the late afternoon shade, Lucky Lady azalea’s flowers tend to blend into the landscape. When the sun shines on them, Lucky Lady’s flowers erupt. I think a perfect exposure would be morning sun, followed by afternoon shade, and finally, maybe late afternoon sun as the golden light appears.
Growing Lucky Lady azalea
Lucky Lady grows 6′-8′. It is a deciduous azalea that needs acidic soils. Roots are shallow so do not cultivate soil inside the drip line. Lucky Lady azaleas flower in mid-April, and are hardy USDA zones 7-9.
Water azaleas regularly until established (a season or two). Soil should be rich but drain well. Add compost or soil amendment when planting. Do not dig a deep hole, and do not plant too deeply. Planting an inch or two above existing soil grade is recommended. Lucky Lady azalea is reputedly deer resistant, unlike the oakleaf hydrangeas consistently nibbled to stalks in gardens I have known.
Azaleas, including the deciduous species such as Lucky Lady, need sun in order to bloom well. Azaleas will tolerate heavy shade but not flower well. The answer is as much morning to early afternoon sun as you can find with shade in the afternoon. Azaleas can stand more sun than many people believe but watch them closely for heat stress until firmly established in the garden. Filtered light throughout the entire day is also a solid plan.
Most of us know deciduous plants shed their leaves in the winter. Most of us are also aware of the classic evergreen azaleas of Japan and the Far East (Kurume, Indica, Satsuki, etc.). However, the azaleas native to the United States are deciduous.
Lucky Lady is an Exbury hybrid azalea. The Exbury azaleas are deciduous, confirming they are hybridized in part from azaleas native to the eastern United States.
Exbury hybrid azaleas are noted for their vividly colored flowers, typically golden yellow and orange and red.
Several classes of deciduous azaleas are named after the locations where they were hybridized. The story of the Exbury hybrid azaleas (and the Knaphill and Ghent) spans multiple continents and multiple centuries.
In the early 1700’s John Bartram (the trail that bears his name runs very close to Athens) and Andre Michaux spent a lot of time basically wandering around eastern North America observing things and gathering plants. They would ship these plants back to Europe. Among these shipments were the native deciduous azaleas of what is now the eastern United States.
Ghent, Belgium is where the hybridizing began, and through successive years and iterations we finally arrived at the Exbury hybrid azaleas:
- Native U.S. azaleas shipped to Europe (the 1700’s)
- GHENT: Native azaleas crossed with Chinese & Japanese species
- MOLLIS: Anthony Waterer hybridized with the western azalea
- KNAP HILL: A bunch of hybridizing with all of the above
Even though the Exbury hybrid azaleas were developed in Europe, they are most popular in the United States.
Source: A superb article regarding the history of hybridization of deciduous azaleas can be found at Virginia Tech University. The article was written in 1986 by R. Christian Cash of Temple University.
Lucky Lady azalea is a dark crimson.
Many flowers described as red end up being some form of magenta when seen in person. Many reviews of red garden roses are really describing flowers with a magenta hue. True reds are the aristocrats of the garden. I reckon the finest red might belong to cardinal flower. Cardinal flower is pure red, and it may be the standard for all red-flowered plants.
Lucky Lady is truly red. It smolders.