QBARS - v30n3 Book Review: Growing Azaleas Commercially

Book Review
by Bill Guttormsen
Greenwood Gardens, Canby, Oregon

GROWING AZALEAS COMMERCIALLY, edited by Anton M. Kobranek and Roy A. Larson, Published by University of California, Division of Agricultural Sciences, 1422 South 10th Street, Richmond, CA 94804, Publication number 4058.

This publication was developed primarily for the commercial azalea grower who is just beginning or is already established in the business. However, I feel that most azalea fans and breeders will find this book interesting and useful. A great deal of research by the editors has been condensed into an excellent learning and reference source. The information is well organized, and thoroughly covers every aspect of growing evergreen azaleas, from selecting the cuttings to grading the finished plant. Complete charts indicate the various problems with fertilizers, pests, and diseases and what can be done to correct the problem.

The chapter on Taxonomy and Origin of Azaleas used for Forcing contains excellent information for hybridizers. It includes a listing of species with their synonymy and a hybrid list of groups with parentage and their characteristics.

The chapter on mineral nutrition is highly technical, going into great detail to explain the reaction of each element in a fertilizer program. This is the most complete work on azalea nutrition that I have read. It includes a color plate showing the effect of mineral deficiencies and excesses. Much of this information is probably too technical for most of us, but there is a great deal of useful information here that may solve some of our nutritional problems.

The information concerning the effects of light and temperature on flower initiation and development would be useful to hybridizers wishing to produce pollen or flowers for crossing at times other than would be normal. The information here is again in detail, citing many experiences and tests, but as in all chapters, the information is presented in a condensed summary at the end of the chapter which is much easier to understand and use.

You will find complete instructions for forcing azaleas at any time of the year, using various chemicals combined with temperature and day length.

The major disease and insect problems are given extensive coverage, with enlarged photos to show fine detail of damage to plant and foliage and the insect causing the problem.

The most common visual symptoms and possible causes of problems with evergreen azaleas are listed at the end of the publication in a table containing a reference page number for more complete information on the problem.

The editors have done a fine job of condensing the research work and tests from many sources to provide us with the latest word on the culture of evergreen azaleas. Commercial growers will find a great deal of useful information here, and for anyone contemplating growing azaleas commercially, this publication is a must.