February's Gainesville Landscape Plant: Formosa Azalea

What makes this plant win the ‘Gainesville Landscape Plant of the Month’?

There are few plants as common in Gainesville as the Azalea, especially the ‘Formosa’ Azalea. These low-maintenance plants put on a bright show when they flower, and can rarely be beat in the amount of flowers on each plant. The bloom time can, unfortunately, be shortened some years by an untimely cold snap in February or March, but they still are unbeatable in full bloom.

How big do they grow?

Formosas can grow 8-10’ tall at maturity but are commonly kept trimmed in the 4-5’ range. They’re spread can be 5-7’ wide as well at maturity.

Where in the landscape do they grow best?

The Formosa is a very versatile and Florida-friendly landscape plant - able to thrive in full sun and deep shade, although it does prefer a couple hours of shade in the afternoon for best results. They also like well-drained soil too, which helps them do well in our typically sandy north Florida soil.

What are their maintenance needs?

The Formosa does best when pruned just 2 times per year, specifically between the end of bloom season (March) and end of June (when they start to bud for new blooms). This is one of the biggest differences between our Gainesville lawn maintenance crews and other companies - as our team goes through monthly horticultural training to know what to prune and when to produce the most appealing landscape throughout the year.

Do any Gainesville lawn pests attack them?

The most common Gainesville lawn pests attacking azaleas are lace bugs and thrips. Occasionally, over watering also can create a fungal disease too, but this is usually an easy fix by adjusting your irrigation settings. Thrips and Lace Bugs can be prevented with home-remedies that take multiple treatments, products sold at local home improvement stores, or by our licensed lawn and ornamental technicians.

What seasons are they at their best?

If you’re looking for color, their bloom season is early spring in North Florida - February or March. Otherwise, they are evergreen year-round for a nicely shaped shrub.