An unusually hardy and highly reliable evergreen shrub with rich lavender purple hose-in-hose flower on a vigorous upright plant. Foliage becomes burgundy in fall.
Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Provide well drained soil, rich in organic matter. Feed with an acid fertilizer after bloom. Keep roots cool with a thick layer of mulch.
Karen is without a doubt among the most coveted azaleas for front foundation bed planting. It's cherished for position near the front door to call attention in the spring with its exquisite mass of color. Outstanding shrub for all beds and borders and will integrate with nearly every plant sharing the same requirements. Azaleas naturally thrive in the acidic soils beneath natural woodlands or ornamental groves of evergreen and hardwood trees. This is an essential of the Japanese tea garden as a symbol of spring, and is found in gardens throughout Asia.
Karen is perfect with other elegant foundation shrubs that bloom in other seasons such as Penny Mac Hydrangea, (Hydrangea macrophylla 'Penny Mac'), Petite Orchid Crape Myrtle, (Lagerstroemia indica 'Monhid'), Black Beauty Elder, (Sambucus nigra 'Gerda') and Mountain Fire Pieris, (Pieris japonica 'Mountain Fire').
Karen is a hybrid developed from the species, R. kaempheri, native to volcanic slopes of northern Japan. The species was introduced to the United States via Arnold Arboretum in the 1890s and various American breeders took up breeding domestic cultivars. This is among the Gable Hybrids, produced by Joe Gable who crossed R. kaempheri with R. poukhanense, then added evergreen R. maxwellii as well as a number of early hybrids into his breeding program. Gable introduced dozens of excellent varieties over a period of fifty years from 1920 to 1980, all developed at his nursery in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania.