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Name: Lucy Garden
Question: An Azara question for Sue - I have a big old Azara serrata in my garden and it developed a variegated shoot. I took some cuttings and they seem to have rooted - I've just taken off the plastic bag over the pot and there are thread roots coming out of the drainage holes. Do I need to give the cuttings winter protection, do you think? Any other tips for growing them on?
Answer: Hi Lucy, what a great find! As Azara serrata isn’t completely hardy (generally quoted as hardy to -10°C) and the plants are very young I would give the cuttings some protection over winter. I would be tempted to play it safe as the variegated form of Azara microphylla is much less hardy than the species - the same might be true of Azara serrata. Find a position indoors on a bright windowsill, in a cool room to over winter them in their first year. As their root systems are still quite small take care not to over-water them while temperatures are cool. If you feel they’re ready then you could place them in a cold greenhouse provided you have some fleece to hand on very cold nights. It should be safe to plant them in their final positions in May when the weather warms up.
Question: Another question - I have an Azara microphylla in a pot. I've had it through two of three seasons and each year it seems to be getting buds but these simply open into leaves. Will it ever flower in a pot or do I need to plant it into a border?
Answer: Azara microphylla have very small flowers which are borne on the underside of the shoots between the leaf axils in late winter and early spring. Flowers are borne on shoots produced the previous year, which are susceptible to damage by late spring frosts. If the new shoots were knocked back when growth resumed in the spring this could have disrupted flowering the following year. Alternatively it could be that your plant is too young to flower. Growing Azara in a pot shouldn’t prevent flowering provided it is well fed and watered throughout spring and summer. Hopefully you should start to see some flowers soon. Let us know how you get on this spring!