If Snow is the most popular white azalea grown today, Mrs. G.G. Gerbing, an old-school white Indica azalea, is not far behind. Mrs. G.G. Gerbing is a sport of the pink azalea George L. Tabor.
I worked at a plant store before going to college, and within 10 minutes of my first day on the job that first spring, I learned my first lesson about azaleas. There I stood surrounded by thousands of one-gallon azaleas all the same size.
How big would each azalea variety grow? How large were their flowers? The owner told me this:
“If you want to know how large an azalea will be at maturity, look at the leaves.” Generally speaking, the larger the leaves, the larger the azalea will get.
To a lesser degree, but still close enough, it is also true that the larger the leaves, the larger the flowers will be. So it is with the Indicas. G.G. Gerbing gets big – 8′-10′ on mature specimens. The flowers are large as well, 3″ of pure white goodness.
G.G. Gerbing is an Indica, also known as a Southern Indian azalea. It is excellent as a specimen plant or screen. I have seen it grown effectively as a foundation plant; due to G.G. Gerbing’s large size, planting as a foundation plant only really works if you have a raised front porch. Besides the lack of winter hardiness, it is an undemanding plant in the garden.
Indica azaleas are not winter hardy in much of the United States.
They are true southern plants, only hardy in gardens that fall in zones 7-9.
Standard azalea rules for planting and care apply with G.G. Gerbing. Well-drained, humous-laden soil. Do not cultivate around the roots as azaleas are shallow-rooted. Acidic soil is required; south of the Piedmont conduct a soil test for pH.