How to Grow and Care for Azalea Bushes
An Azalea bush, is a popular flowering bush and foundation plant, with bright
Azaleas bushes are members of the Rhododendron family. The biggest difference
between the Rhododendron plant and an Azalea plant, is the Azalea is a deciduous
bush. It sheds its leaves in the fall. The Rhododendron plant is an evergreen.
In general, an Azalea bush is smaller in height, leaves, and blooms.
Most varieties of Azaleas grow two to eight feet tall. Fragrant blooms put
on a show in the spring in white, lavender, bright orange, gold, red and
Smaller in size, Azaleas are poplar potted plants as gifts for Easter and
Mother's Day. After blooms die, transplant azaleas outdoors.
Propagation of Azalea:
Azaleas are grown from seeds, cuttings or grafting. Most home gardeners do
not start Azaleas from seed. A plant grown from seed, takes 2-10 years to
produce the first bloom. Most homeowners buy established Azalea plants while
in full bloom from a garden store. Azalea plants are often kept indoors, or
on a deck while the plants continue to bloom. then, after the flowers have
died, they transplant them into a flower bed, or along a foundation.
Planting and transplanting Azaleas is best done in the early spring or early
fall. When transplanting, replant bushes at the same level in the ground
as they were in their original location. Smaller bushes transplant best.
How to Grow Azaleas:
Azaleas are acid loving plants. They grow best in light shade, and need
protection from midday sun and winter sun. They prefer a moist, well drained
soil with a pH of 5.5. Check the soil pH before planting, especially if planting
along a foundation where soils tend to be more alkaline. Adjust the pH, as
needed. Mix in plenty of inorganic matter, and well rotted manure.
Selecting a location is important. Azaleas can be harmed or killed by sustained
winds. Select a location out of the direct sunlight, if possible. Protection
from strong midday sun is important. Otherwise the leaves dry out and burn.
Northern exposures are best. It is also important to provide protection from
winds. A low lying area, or one protected by a building or a hedgerow is
a good choice.
Azaleas prefer a moist soil. It is important to water the plants during extended
dry spells, even in the fall.
Using pine needles (acidic pH) as mulch works to help keep the soil moist,
and maintain/add acidity to the soil. Roots are shallow, so mulching will
help to keep the weeds down, without disturbing the root system.
Pruning Azalea Plants:
Pruning or pinching back young Azalea plants helps to promote bushy growth.
Pruning should be done early in the spring. But, any pruning may result in
cutting off next years blooms. If you prune an established bush heavily,
it may not bloom again for two to three years. At the thought of losing
next year's blooms, we recommend avoiding pruning established plants at all.
Just let them grow naturally however they want.
Azaleas are susceptible to winter burn, caused by frozen ground, wind and
winter sun. As previously mentioned, selection of a location for your Azaleas
will help to avoid wind or sun damage. Some varieties are not as tolerant
to extreme cold. If you are in northern areas of the country, ask the garden
store about the cold hardiness of the variety you are buying.
You can further protect your bushes by providing wind breaks, especially
during winter months.
More on Winter
Insects and Diseases Affecting Azalea:
Insect and disease problems are infrequent. Treat with insecticides or fungicides
only as needed.
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Also see: How to grow Rhododendrons