I have been getting super into gardening and landscaping over the last year. There are just so many creative ways to explore nature when stuck indoors.
So when I found out about the woody shrubs of Azaleas are, I just knew I just had to get some. They are such a tidy anchor piece and are simply a mesmerizing sight.
Spring and Fall, when the temperature is cool, are the best time to plant your Azaleas. Plant them in a sunny spot that gets a good amount of afternoon shade. Evergreen Azaleas do well in partial shade with some wind protection. Deciduous varieties flower more in full sun.
After going through my own personal journey with Azaleas, I am writing this article—a year-long journey of befriending the colorful, vivid shrubs.
Azalea’s vivid colors only intensify during the rain. But truly, planting them is easier than choosing which one to plant. After doing my initial research, I was in such a dilemma.
There are just so many types of Azaleas. After what would amount to probably hundreds of hours of scrolling, I found the best ones.
Azaleas have been selectively bred for centuries. So there are literally thousands of breeds to choose from.
Table of Contents
- Choosing The Right Azaleas Plant
- Choosing The Planting Sites
- Planting Azalea In Spring
- Tips to Follow After Planting Azaleas
- The Best Soil To Plant Azalea In Spring
- What To Feed Azaleas In Spring
- When and How to Prune Azalea Plant
- How to Prune Azalea Roots
- How to Transplant Azaleas in Spring
- What to do Post Transplanting Your Azaleas?
- Common Azaleas Plant Problems
- Common Azalea Diseases and How to Treat Them
Choosing The Right Azaleas Plant
Azaleas make striking barriers, borders, butterfly and cottage gardens, flowering hedges, rockeries, woodland edges, zen gardens for your homes and gardens.
It is, in general, a great addition to any home.
So even though there aren’t really wrong choices here, the following are some breeds you should definitely not miss checking out for your personal gardens;
- Sweet Azalea
- Coast Azalea
- Flame Azalea
- Royal Azalea
- Pink-Shell Azalea
- Swamp Azalea
- Cumberland Azalea
- Holly Springs
- Duc De Rohan
- Gibraltar Azalea
Choosing The Planting Sites
To keep Azaleas healthy and blooming, choosing an appropriate planting location and practice proper azalea care is a must.
In Company With Each Other or Standalone:
Azaleas actually look the most attractive when they are planted alone; however, mass plantings work well in larger areas as well.
In contrast With Other Bigger Plants:
Since the flower coverage on Azaleas encompasses the entire shrub. Placing them in a background of conifers, such as pines or other acid-loving plants, will make for an arresting sight.
Azalea shrubs should be planted in the spring, preferably within cool, lightly shaded sites.
Morning Sun Chaser:
Full sun can actually burn the leaves of Azalea shrubs. While heavy shade can deprive them of necessary oxygen, resulting in poor blooming and weaker growth.
In poorly drained areas, Azaleas should be placed in raised beds. Azaleas can also make exceptional candidates for containers.
So pick a site that gets the softer morning sun and shade during the afternoon. Azaleas will thrive in lukewarm as well as mostly shady settings.
Planting Azalea In Spring
When planting Azaleas, spacing depends on the breed of Azalea you have opted for.
Larger bushes require more space than smaller types. It’s tempting to plant your short-height Azalea bushes snugly and together, but you will only end up snapping up every other Azalea bush if you do that.
Follow these steps before planting your Azaleas:
- Set plants where you plan to plant.
- Dig a planting hole twice as wide and just as deep as the plant’s root ball.
- Remove the plant from its pot and place it in the dug-up hole. The top of the root ball should be aligned with the soil line.
- Fill around the plant with the soil you removed mixed in a 50:50 ratio with soil treatments full of necessary nutrition like Nitrogen, etc. Nutrition in the soil will give the plants instant support and help them grow healthy roots.
- Water thoroughly.
- Spread the mulch near the roots. But make sure they’re not suffocating and are not too compact. Don’t mound the mulch against the plant. This will help keep the soil moist.
Tips to Follow After Planting Azaleas
Your work truly only begins once you place your Azaleas in the ground.
If you want your garden to thrive, then here are a few tips that might help jumpstart the process:
- Provide well-drained soil rich in decomposed compost. Ensure to check its pH level to ensure that it is slightly acidic, somewhere around 4.5–6.
- Seldom bothered by insects and diseases, Azaleas require little care once established, except for watering during dry times.
- Mulch well. Shallow-rooted, Azaleas tend to dry out quickly if not mulched. A mulch of oak leaf mold, pine needles, or aged oak, pine, or hemlock sawdust will keep the soil acidic and moist.
- Fertilizer isn’t needed. The decaying manure and compost will provide the necessary nutrients that Azaleas need.
The Best Soil To Plant Azalea In Spring
Different types of plants require differently treated soils. For Azaleas, follow the instructions below:
Azaleas have shallow roots and require well-drained, acidic soil.
Treat the soil with compost before planting them in containers or raised beds.
To help conserve water, maintain soil temperature, and pluck out weeds as soon as they start to appear.
Mulch the shrubs with pine straw or composted pine barks and replenish them annually.
Organic matter added to the soil and an adequate layering of mulch will generally provide Azaleas with sufficient nutrients.
Therefore, frequent fertilizing as is necessary for most shrubs and herbs is often not required specifically for Azaleas.
However, if there are low amounts of Nitrogen in the soil, applying fertilizer may be necessary to prevent a nutrient deficiency.
What To Feed Azaleas In Spring
Azaleas will quickly thrive in the cool spring climate. But be wary of symptoms of deficiency. Azaleas will show stunted growth when they should be thriving in spring.
Deficiency of nutrition in the soil will result in the shrub’s smaller greenish-yellow leaves or early leaf drop.
You should fertilize the Azalea shrubs in late spring to early fall. A month after planting, begin feeding Azaleas with plant food.
In addition to the main plant nutrients, choose a fertilizer that includes micronutrients such as Iron, Manganese, and Zinc, which are vital for growing Azaleas (and other acidic soil-loving plants).
When and How to Prune Azalea Plant
To maintain a more compact appearance or encourage bushier growth, it is essential to trim Azaleas after their blooming period has expired in spring.
It would help if you took time to prune Azaleas by cutting back the branches of these shrubs will also help renew overgrown plants.
Keeping your Azaleas healthy throughout the growing season with good Azalea care will ensure an abundance of beautiful blooms for many springs to come.
How to Prune Azalea Roots
I also highly recommend you prune Azalea roots. Follow the given instructions to do it the right way:
- Dig a ring-like channel all around the azalea 8-12 inches out from the trunk.
- This will shorten the hollow outward growing roots.
- Make the channel around six inches wide and about a foot deep.
- Fill the channel back with the same loosened soil.
- New fibrous roots and root hairs will grow into the soil within the trench.
How to Transplant Azaleas in Spring
Ideally, a year or so after root-pruning, you will be ready to move the Azalea. Start by pruning the top back by about one-third and
- Dig the new hole.
- Free your beautiful shrub by slicing a ring outside the original root-prune channel. This should be between 12-18 inches deep.
- Water the hole thoroughly.
- Force the shovel all around and up under the root mass and lift it.
- Try to retain as much soil as possible in contact with the roots.
- Slide a plastic sheet under the root ball and wrap it up the sides before moving it.
- Keep the ball of root moist. Place the shrub in a shaded spot until it is transplanted into its new hole.
- Leave the root ball intact when transplanting Azaleas
- The new place for the shrub should be a foot or two wider. The hole must be of about the same depth as the root ball.
- Restrain from adding more or any fertilizer here. This will damage the tender new roots.
- Use the sheet to move the Azalea to its new location.
- Drop the root ball into the hole and refill with the same native soil, stopping to water a few times to make sure the soil settles in around the roots and there are no air pockets.
- Be sure the shrub is set no deeper in the new hole than in its original location.
What to do Post Transplanting Your Azaleas?
It’s easy to imagine the transplanted Azaleas as a standalone shrub as it was originally. But a transplanted shrub requires more thorough care.
- Water Azaleas thoroughly
- Watering every day for the first 2 weeks is essential to keep them healthy.
- Water thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots.
- Build up a dike around the trunk a few feet out that will hold water over the root zone, so it percolates into the soil rather than running off.
- Cover the ground around the trunk where the roots ended with an organic mulch 3-6 inches deep.
- There should be a distance of about an inch or two between the decomposed compost and the trunk of your azaleas.
- You can use hay, straw, pine needles, dry leaves, bark chips, or well-rotted compost.
- Azaleas are acid lovers, so don’t use a mulch that has a basic pH.
- Test your soil’s acidic levels if you aren’t sure.
Once your Azalea is in its new position, it will need constant love and care, almost mother-like worry, for a few months. Treat them like your babies!
Supply the difference if it doesn’t get an inch of rain per week. Water thoroughly and deeply once a week or when the soil gets almost dry.
Do not keep the soil around the roots constantly wet because that will prevent air from reaching the roots and lead to rot.
Transplanted shrubs are more at risk for dying of dehydration or disease, so watch your Azalea plant closely.
Gorgeous Azalea bushes will bounce back after being transplanted in no time with a little tender love and care.
Common Azaleas Plant Problems
1. Excessive Temperature-
Sometimes there are environmental factors that are associated with Azaleas. No matter how hard you want them to survive, something goes wrong.
If you live in cold areas, frost is something to be wary about. It can damage parts of the shrub.
They will either wilt, turn brown or black, and eventually die a sad death.
New growth is especially susceptible in early spring.
Do not grow tender species in cold climates and cover shrubs with sheets or burlap anytime frost is expected to prevent frost damage.
2. Nutrient Deficiency –
Nutrient deficiencies are another common factor with Azaleas. Plants may exhibit discoloration with fewer or undersized foliage and flowers.
Azaleas will need a constant supply of Nitrogen and Iron. If not, the deficiency will invite disease and sickness.
3. Adequate Watering –
Too much or too little watering will cause the green growing shrub to wilt, discolor, and drop.
As mentioned earlier, most of the time, your Azaleas will need an inch of rainfall per week during their active growing season.
4. Proper Lighting –
Too much or too little light will hamper your Azalea’s growth.
Leaf scorch, caused by too much sun, may appear as yellow or brown spots on foliage.
Common Azalea Diseases and How to Treat Them
Sometimes, no matter what instructions you read and follow or how much care you provide, your Azalea will get sick.
The most common Azalea diseases affecting these shrubs include:
|Name of Disease||Symptoms||Treatment|
|Azalea Gall||Azalea shrub turns curled in the wrong way and will have thick fleshy leaves.|
They will turn pale green to white in color.
|Affected leaves eventually turn brown and should be removed and destroyed.|
|Petal Blight||Pale or whitish spots on colored petals or rust-colored spots on white petals.|
The colored portions will quickly expand and turn the shrub soft and gooey.
|Apply a fungicide to buds as they begin to turn color.|
|Powdery Mildew||It appears as white powdery growth on the leaves and occurs most often during fall.||Diseased leaves from powdery mildew may drop prematurely. It may require fungicide spray.|
|Rust||Turns the shrub reddish to orange spore masses.|
It impacts the galls or cankers on bark and will kill the entire plant.
|Prune and dispose of infected leaves and shoots immediately.|
|Twig Blight||May cause wilting and defoliation on one or more branches with a reddish-brown discoloration under the bark.||Control with pruning and disposal of diseased branches, making cuts a few inches (8 cm.) below discoloration.|
Azaleas are widely celebrated and anticipated in the spring garden. Their vibrant existence can brighten up any cold day.
A little bit of early effort will result in the most colorful spring displays right in your garden! It’s surely worth the wait and effort.