GG Gerbing azalea – Sport

Q: I have three large-leaved azaleas in my garden. The other day, I noticed two perfect lavender-colored (Formosa)blossoms on an otherwise all-white (G.G. Gerbing) plant. How unusual is this?

A: It’s not unusual if you understand the origin of ‘Mrs. G. G. Gerbing’. The ‘Gerbing’ azalea is a “sport” of ‘George L. Taber’ azalea. Sports are caused by unexpected bud damage to a plant. An astute gardener many years ago saw a branch bearing white flowers on their ‘Taber’ azalea. They decided to propagate it, name it and introduce it to the nursery trade.

The genetics of your ‘G. G. Gerbing’ azalea have caused it to sport back to its parent, ‘G. L. Taber’ azalea. Both ‘Gerbing’ and ‘Taber’ are much more cold-hardy than the common ‘Formosa’ azalea and both are very popular in Atlanta.

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