New Azalea Is Winter Hardy

They're calling the new Northern Lights winter hardy azalea one of the biggest breakthroughs in plant breeding in recent years. Harold Pellet, researcher at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, who helped develop the new variety, says it opens whole new areas of the country to the beautiful flowering plant.

"Northern Lights can withstand temperatures down to 45 degrees below zero, 20 to 25 degrees lower than previous varieties," says Pellet.

The problem with azaleas is that they form flower buds in the fall and carry them through the winter. When exposed to excessively cold temperatures, buds freeze and the plant doesn't bloom the following year. The unusual increase in hardiness in the new variety is almost like developing a new plant, says Pellet.

The Northern Lights azalea is available in light to dark pink colors in nurseries throughout the country.