Koromo Shikibu azalea is found in more gardens than the white-flowered azalea Primitive Beauty. The two share distinct strap-like flowers that separate both of these fine azaleas from the pack.
Koromo Shikibu (Rhododendron x Koromo Shikibu) is an evergreen azalea. The leaves may turn reddish-purple during the fall and this is considered normal.
Koromo Shikibu’s flowers are said to be fragrant, although in my experience the scent is minimal. Hardiness is reputed to -15F. It never gets that cold here in Georgia so I can neither confirm or deny winter hardiness beyond stating it is reliable here.
Koromo Shibiku grows slowly to 3′-4′ at maturity and has an upright spreading habit that is faintly reminiscent of Indica azaleas.
Koromo Shikibu is not an Indica azalea. Nor is it a Kurume, although it is sometimes categorized as such. A Rhododendron macrosepalum perhaps? Thoughts on the possible parentage and some fascinating ideas as to the origin of Koromo Shikibu’s name comes from Paghat the Ratgirl.
The author Ratgirl also suggests that Koromo Shikibu may have sporadic fall flowering. I am no big fan of Encore azaleas (fall is for pumpkins and asters), but I would welcome a return visit of Koromo Shikibu’s flowers in autumn.
Basic Cultural Requirements of Azaleas – Koromo Shikibu’s cultural needs are the same as many of the tried and true azaleas we are all familiar with:
- Above all things, do not plant too deeply…an inch or two above existing soil grade is great.
- Acidic soil is required (have your soil pH tested if you live outside of the Piedmont of the southern United States).
- Provide moist, friable, and well-amended soil.
- Azaleas prefer afternoon shade (morning sun is fine, even preferable) or filtered light throughout the day.
- Well-drained soil is a must or one risks losing the plant in winter.
- Provide regular moisture…especially do not allow azaleas to dry out until established (the first season or two).
- Do not cultivate the soil around the drip line. Azalea roots grow close to the surface.