Wow! Red Pepper is another heat tolerant Aromi deciduous azalea hybrid that has definitely earned a spot in our garden. No wonder it was the 2008 American Rhododendron Society's Rhododendron of the Year! The glowing, rich red-orange azalea blossoms sit in neat rounded clusters atop bare stems. A gorgeous spring show, fragrant, and it attracts butterflies and other spring pollinators. In the garden, the Aromi Deciduous Azalea Hybrids have the look, feel, and fragrance of many of, or are improvements upon, our most beautiful, US native deciduous azaleas, sometimes called Bush Honeysuckles, and yet are easy and vigorous enough for the average gardener to be successful with.
Azaleas need a humus rich, acid soil and adequate moisture during establishment as well a good organic mulch. The mulch will keep the root zone cooler and at a more stable temperature, helps to conserve moisture, controls competition from weeds, and as it breaks down it's nutrients are slowly released back into the soil feeding your plants. Properly mulched Azaleas often need little additional nutrients once they are well established. Never use lime around Azaleas and realize that many of your 'garden' fertilizers like 8-8-8 and 13-13-13 contain lime as a filler so this could be toxic to them. Use a slow release, non-burning acidifying fertilize instead when needed. See our growing guide for more detailed Azalea growing info.
For excellent and detailed information on growing deciduous Azaleas, including heat tolerant deciduous types, see "Selecting and Growing Azaleas" from the University of Georgia Extension Service. There is also an interesting article from the Washington Post by Adrian Higgs titled "Azaleas Other Than Pink" that describes the origin of the heat tolerant Aromi Deciduous Azalea hybrids and was published in the May 19, 2005 online edition and in print on June 2, 2005. This article also highlights the importance that David Ellis and Maarten van der Giessen have played in making sure that these beautiful, generally fragrant, and mostly vigorous deciduous azalea hybrids have not been lost but instead now have the potential to be shared with and enjoyed by gardeners across the U.S.
NOTE: We list the Aromi Deciduous Azaleas with the native plant category because of their resemblance in habit and form to many of our US native deciduous azalea species, though they are not in fact a true native species but are hybrids. Dr. Aromi used native species as well as hybrids in his breeding work to develop this heat tolerant series with the beauty, poise, colors, vigor, and fragrance of our native deciduous azalea species in hopes that they might be enjoyed throughout a much broader range of the US, but especially for the hot humid South like that of Mobile, Alabama, and they are known to do well in much of zones 6-9.