An unusual evergreen shrub (or small tree) with glossy dark green leaves and masses of vanilla-scented yellow flowers in early spring.
Family: Salicaceae (willow family)
Botanical Name: Azara
Foliage: Evergreen, simple oval leaves.
Flowers: Small yellow flowers with prominent fluffy stamens, arranged in clusters from the leaf axils. Usually fragrant. Can be followed by white or pale purple berries in long warm summers.
Flowering Period: Spring to early summer.
Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (chalk, clay, sand or loam). Any pH.
Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Best in a south or west-facing aspect in a sheltered location.
Type: Shrub or small tree.
Origin: Subtropical regions of South America.
Hardiness: Hardy in warmer regions of the UK (down to -10 deg C). Young shoots can be damaged by late spring frosts.
Azaras are best planted out in spring. Grow against a sheltered south or south-west-facing wall for the best show of flowers.
Water well during the growing season. They enjoy a deep, humus-rich soil, so will benefit from a thick layer of mulch each year.
Can be pruned
from mid to late spring, after flowers have finished.
Note: these semi-hardy shrubs can
suffer from frost damage, so you may
need to cut back dead shoots as a result.
Prune fan-trained wall specimens, by remove shoots growing at 90 degrees to the wall and cut back shoots that have flowered to two or four buds.
Generally free from pests or diseases.
Semi-ripe cuttings can be taken in summer or you can propagate by layering a low lying branch.
Azaras are not fully hardy in the UK, so are not often grown in private gardens. The following varieties can be grown in milder areas:
Azara serrata a large shrub with glossy serrated leaves and fragrant yellow spring flowers. Often followed by white fruits in warm summers. Height to 16ft (5m).
Azara microphylla has vanilla-scented yellow flowers. Height to about 12ft (3m) in the UK. A variegated form is available.
Azara lanceolata has narrow, lance-like leaves and is not very hardy in the UK. Best grown against a south facing wall. Prefers a moist acidic soil. Height and spread to 16ft (5m). Available from Burncoose Nurseries.
Azara integrifolia has large leaves and flowers in March. A variegated form is available. Height to about 10ft (2.5m) in the UK. Available from Burncoose Nurseries.