JARS v60n2 - Azaleas in Brazil

Azaleas in Brazil
Flavio Andreis
Erval Grande, Rio Grande do Sul

I started planting the Andreis Gardens about ten years ago. It is located in the north part of Rio Grande do Sul State in the city of Erval Grande. At the time, I was searching for a species to plant along the very long driveway to our recently built house, which was our deceased fathers dream. During my search, a lot of plants came into consideration. After reading an article in a Brazilian magazine, mentioning that azaleas were very tough plants and that they withstand even a very polluted area (which is not the case here), I instantly made a decision to bring more than 1,000 azaleas and had them planted right away. After the first bloom, which was already very nice, I decided to increase those plants and made 10,000 cuttings in our nursery which by then had mainly Elliots pine (Pinus elliottii) and Ilex paraguariensis in production. The result was quite good so I started planting azaleas around the man-made lake in front of our house. Things were getting so spectacular that I just could not stop planting azaleas.

Andreis Gardens with azaleas in 
foreground. Entrance to Andreis Gardens lined 
with azaleas.
Andreis Gardens with azaleas in foreground.
Photo by Mauro Pazinato
Entrance to Andreis Gardens lined with azaleas.
Photo by Mauro Pazinato
Azaleas and surrounding countryside. Azalea flower closeup.
Azaleas and surrounding countryside.
Photo by Mauro Pazinato
Closeup of azalea flower.
Photo by Mauro Pazinato
In February a blooming azalea hedge August blooming azaleas
During February an azalea hedge under the blooming crape myrtle ( Lagerstroemia indica ).
Photo by Mauro Pazinato
During August the azaleas bloom beneath the crape myrtle.
Photo by Mauro Pazinato

Many years later, the town of Erval Grande decided to request the title of "Azalea Capital of the Nation," which they have received! We had an azalea planting rally last May and got attention from the media.
Erval Grande is located in a climate zone called super humid and used to contain a rain forest in the lower areas and extensive areas of Araucaria brasiliensis and Ilex paraguariensis . In the higher altitudes of 600 to 850 meters (1,980-2,800 ft), occasional frosts occur depending on the year, but its not uncommon to see the weather change very quickly from -1C to 16C (30-60F) in the same day. Our spring weather is very mild from 17C to 23C (63-75F), with occasional drops in temperature due to cold fronts from Argentina. The summer tends to be hot and humid with occasional short droughts of up to thirty days, giving me a lot of concern about the azaleas. The autumn can be dry, but due to lower temperatures, it is not a major concern. In the winter months, the weather is either dry with frosts or cold and humid. I suppose you can call our climate sub-tropical.
Regarding the culture care of our plants, after blossoms appear, we give 1 tablespoon of NPK 30. 30. 30 and during autumn a generous amount of bone meal. I have to emphasize that I am not an expert.
Regarding the species of azaleas that I have here, I have to say that I dont know their exact names, due to lack of knowledge. Naming them wrongly would be nonsense, so please, if any of you can help me, please do. The three main colors of azaleas that I have here are strong pink, white and what we call here salmon, so I think we are in the very basics here. It would be incredible if we could find some American nursery interested in cooperating with us. Yellow azaleas are completely unknown here and would be an instant smash hit!

Mr. Andreis is the owner of Andreis Gardens.