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Mary Poppins—practically perfect in every way! You knew the famous movie was also a book, but did you know it was an Azalea, too? Mary Poppins Azalea is a spirited, shrubby plant with all of the spunk and good cheer of its namesake. When warm, breezy spring days arrive—dropping nannies at your doorstep—this exuberant Accent bursts forth with a profusion of vibrant red-orange blossoms. They’re the kind of blooms you can spot a mile away, but you’ll want to keep them close at hand so you can savor their wonderful perfume. Simply supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Deciduous Azaleas are the showboats of late spring, decadent Accents that offer delightful, funnel-shaped flowers in a rainbow of colors. Many of these are hybrid selections, carefully bred from among several different species from Asia and America. Mary Poppins is one such hybrid Azalea. It features extra-large trusses of fiery orange flowers and is especially popular in the Pacific Northwest. The plant was registered in 1974, but no one has taken credit for making the cross that produced it. Its origins remain a mystery.
But wait, there’s more! Many Deciduous Azaleas supply not only sensational spring flowers but also striking fall color, and Mary Poppins is no exception. When nights turn frosty, this star takes the stage again, putting on a brilliant show of purple and red foliage.
How to Grow
Deciduous Azaleas aren’t hard to grow, but it can be a little tricky to keep them looking sharp throughout the season. One issue they have is powdery mildew, which doesn’t kill the plant, but leaves a white film on the foliage. Mary Poppins Azalea shows good resistance to powdery mildew. To further guard against this affliction, provide your plant with the best possible growing conditions. Avoid extremes—give it good light but no hot afternoon sun, moist but not soggy soil, good air circulation but no strong winds. In addition, the soil should be rich with organic matter, well-drained, and acidic. Mulch to conserve moisture.
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