The Q&A Archives: Belgian Indica As Indoor Specimen

Question: I believe the zone I live in is too cold to plant a Belgian Indica in my garden. You indicate that it can be an "Indoor Specimen." What care should it receive as an indoor plant?

Answer: Long term care and reblooming of a Belgian Indica azalea indoors can be accomplished, but it is not all that easy to do in the average home. While the plant is in bloom, keep it in a bright location that is cool to help the flowers last as long as possible.

In about May when the weather has settled, plant it outside, pot and all, in a location with dappled light or gentle morning sun and shade the rest of the day. During the summer, water and fertilize it using a liquid fertilizer for acid loving plants. If needed, prune it after it blooms but before the end of June. Turn the pot occasionally to keep it from rooting into the ground. Early summer would also be the time to repot it if needed, using an acid potting mix.

In the fall, as the weather cools, protect it from the first few frosts so it can stay outside as long as possible but do not allow it to go through a hard freeze. Bring it indoors to a cool area with very bright light. It will need to spend about two months (eg November and December) at about 40 to 50 degrees in order to set buds. A cool greenhouse is ideal for this. During this chilling period, do not fertilize it and water it just enough to keep it from wilting or going completely dry.

Next in about January when you can see the flower buds begin to swell up, you will have to bring it into slightly warmer temperatures (minimum of about 60 degrees) where it should bloom. If you keep it too warm however the plant will try to skip blooming and move right into its spring growth spurt. Cool room temperatures will also help the blooms last longer. Once the blooms fade, deadhead and begin the cycle again.

As you can see, this plant has fairly specific requirements to thrive as an indoor plant and it may take some experimenting to identify the best locations in your home for meeting the temperature requirements. It is very rewarding if you can manage to rebloom it -- the plants are lovely.

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