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Azalea Midnight Flare

Midnight Flare azalea is a dark smoldering deep red azalea.

The waxy red flowers of Midnight Flare are set off by dark lustrous green foliage. When I consider a plant for use in landscape design the primary considerations aesthetically are size, form, shape, and foliage. Midnight Flare azalea has it all.

Azalea Midnight Flare
Deep, dark red.

Blooms are important in the garden, but the flowers are with us only a short time. Other factors weigh heavier. I love Midnight Flare’s red flowers, but I use Midnight Flare azaleas in garden design because of their beautiful foliage and form in the landscape.

Midnight Flare is a fairly small evergreen azalea, growing three to five feet at maturity. Many of the evergreen azaleas grow wider than tall and Midnight Flare is no exception. It may spread to six or seven feet wide over the years. If you are looking for a large azalea with deep red flowers, consider Lucky Lady, a deciduous Exbury hybrid.

Midnight Flare is a Harris hybrid azalea. The Harris hybrids are beautiful and refined in the garden and landscape.

Most of the Harris hybrids are mid-season bloomers (University of Georgia CAES). James Harris, who died in 2010, left behind a legacy of great azaleas. Perhaps his most famous is the so-called hanging basket azalea Pink Cascade, an azalea developed during Harris’ early period of the 1970’s. Pink Cascade is perfectly named, as it has cascading growth habit and pink flowers.

Midnight Flare was developed during a timespan when Harris focused on hybridization of red azaleas (mid-1980’s-onward). Midnight Flare was awarded the Rhododendron of the Year for the southeastern United States in 2010 by the American Rhododendron Society.

azalea midnight flare
Azalea Midnight Flare is a Harris hybrid.

Growing Azaleas

Azaleas need acidic soil. We don’t bother to check our soil pH in the Piedmont region of the U.S., but elsewhere run a soil test and amend as required. Azaleas can handle a lot more sun than given credit for. They are often thought of as shade garden plants, and this is true.

It is really only the harsh afternoon sun that is too strong for azaleas. Established azaleas may be okay in the direct afternoon sun, although I wouldn’t push it. Azalea flowers will seem washed out in bright sunlight. They are at their best visually in filtered, indirect light.

Do not plant azaleas or rhododendrons too deeply. I actually plant most shrubs a little high. Georgia’s clay soils will lead to the demise of many herbaceous perennials and shrubs during winter due to the plant’s constant saturation with moisture while not in active growth.

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