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How to Care for Azaleas in Your Garden

Lockridge is an avid reader who enjoys learning about beautiful garden plants. Among other things, she has worked with a florist.

A Gorgeous Azalea Bloom

A Gorgeous Azalea Bloom

General Care Tips

Many gardeners choose to include azaleas due to their flexibility. When allowed to bloom and bloom, azaleas can grow large and bushy and come a show-stopper. When carefully manicures, the azalea can provide structure and accent other important players in the garden.

Wherever, and however you choose to implement azaleas in your garden, remember that the plant tends to thrive when planted in well-draining, acidic soil. A cursory online search tell you that azaleas grow best in hardiness zones USDA plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. However ensuring that you are in the correct hardiness zone isn't the only consideration when planting azaleas, or any plants in particular. So get to know the plants quirks and preferences.

Azaleas, like other plants, prefer to be protected by shade in the afternoon heat and exposed to light in the morning when temperatures are cooler. So avoid planting the azalea in a locations that will receive intense, direct heat, or total shade for the entire day.

Also consider the type of soil in your particular garden, particularly the way in which the soil retains water. Encourage azaleas to bloom to their full potential by ensuing your soil is well-draining and fairly acidic.

Once planted, keep your azalea in tip-top shape by frequently deadheading it. Remove spent or wilting blooms by gently pinching off the flower, this not only encourages new growth, but it keeps the plant from looking raggedy. Discourage rot (and keep the area looking clear) by deposing of the spend blooms in your compost heap. Rake away blooms and leaves that have dropped naturally to keep the zeal looking even better.

How to Repot Azaleas

Although some gardeners plant azaleas in the garden, others prefer the flexibility of potted plant, which can be moved around the accommodate space requirements, or easily moved indoors if weather becomes too cold.

Since potted plants can loose moisture more easily than those planted in the ground, potted azaleas will require a little more attention, and may regularly required being repotted into a larger pot every 6 month or so. If you notice that the root systems is starting to circle around the pot, or of the roots turn too fine or noodle-like, it's a sure sign your plant has outgrown the pot and needs more room.

  1. Select a pot 2–4 inches wider than the previous pot. Since azaleas require adequate drainage, ensure that the pot has at least one drainage hole. I
  2. Add new potting mix to the bottom of the new pot, and scruff up the old packed in soil around the roots of your plant.
  3. Set the old plant into the pot, ideally the old soil should be about a ½ inch below the rim of the new pot. Add more new soil into the pot, ensuring that the soil is packed firmly around the roots.
  4. Tap the pot on the counter or ground (gently) to ensure proper settling of soil- and to remove any air pockets. Add more potting soil as necessary, remembering to keep the soil about a ½ inch away from the top of the pot.
  5. Water the azalea thoroughly until the soil is moist, but not soggy. Monitor moisture levels closely over the next few days and avoid letting the soil dry out.
  6. Fertilize azaleas according to package instructions during the growing season with a low-nitrogen additive for acid-loving plants such as azaleas.

How to Trim Azaleas

How and wheny ou trim your azalea will depend upon the type you have. Some azaleas bloom on old wood (last year's growth) whereas other bloom on new wood (growth from the current year). Consult your plant's growing instructions, for the best time of year for you specific variety.

Although azaleas are a shrub which may be trimmed, trying to force it into a more formal shape with straight edges may unfortunately result in a scraggly mess. Rather, consider letting your azalea plant grow naturally, primarily trimming branches that stick out outside of the natural shape. Don’t worry about needing to find a “connecting branch” or elbow area of the branch when trimming or thinning the plant out; azaleas are fairly hearty and tend to grow on new wood. Feel free to cut branches back by one-third to yield best results.

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Common Problems

Although azaleas are generally easy to care for and don’t normally have issues with pests or diseases, they can sometimes suffer from root rot, blight, or pests.

Avoid root rot by not watering the plant too long, or for too often. Adequately space plants out- so they have enough room for air to circulate around them- and plant them in area that will received adequate light to dry the ground between waterings. Instead, conserve moisture by applying mulch or pine straw at the base of the plant.

Keeping the area clear of other decaying debris will also keep the plant in peak performance, so pull weeds and dispose of spent blooms regularly.


How to Grow Azaleas From a Cutting

Not all plants can be propagated from cuttings, but azaleas are one of the plants that can! In fact, azaleas can be easily grown from cuttings by following the steps below.

  1. Inspect your plant a section of new growth from your azalea plant. Look for wood that is somewhat soft but not brittle.
  2. Cut a piece that is between two to five inches long, during a cool time of the day or after a good watering. It’s best to cut the plant when it is less likely to be stressed. (Be sure to use sterilized knife or clippers to avoid contamination or infection.)
  3. Strip all foliage from the branch except for the top bunch of leaves. Keep the bark in tact, except for the bottom half inch of the branch.
  4. Gently scrap off the bark with your fingernail or a clean knife, and dip the cut area into a liquid hormone solution for up to 5 seconds. Shake off any any excess hormone solution.
  5. Plant the branch in a 50/50 peat and perlite-rooting medium that is 4 to 6 inches deep. Keep soil moistened, and not packed down to help promote drainage and aeration. Feel free to plant multiple branches in the same container, just don't overcrowding the area.
  6. Water the soil well and be patient; your cuttings should take root in about 4 to 8 weeks. Check the growth progress by gently tugging on the cutting; if you feel resistance, it is a sign the cutting is taking root.
  7. Transplant the rooted cutting to another pot, and keep it away from freezing temperatures in a greenhouse or warm area for at least one year.
Dewy Azalea Blossoms

Dewy Azalea Blossoms

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: My outside azaleas are planted in groupings and had done quite well until about three years ago. Slowly, plant by plant, they began to yellow and after a couple of years died. The leaves get smaller with age, and they yellow and produce fewer or no flowers. What is the problem?

Answer: If you've already ruled out root rot, the most likely answer is a nematode infection. Consider collecting a soil sample from the affected area, and sending it to a local cooperative extension service for evaluation.

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© 2018 Diane Lockridge

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