Azaleas, nicknamed “the royalty of the garden” are flowers of the Rhododendron genus. They are a lovely addition to a garden, and really not one of the more difficult flowers to grow successfully. Just follow these steps:
1. Choose the right azaleas.
Azalea plants come in many different varieties. They prefer moderate temperatures and fairly humid conditions, but some varieties are much hardier and more tolerant of deviations from this than are others. There’s a good chance that some types of azalea will do fine where you live, and others will not. Therefore, it’s a good idea to purchase plants grown out of doors locally, so you know from the outset that they are of a type that is suited to your area.
The varieties of azaleas also differ considerably in size and color. Some azaleas grow to only about 2 feet; others can grow as tall as 12 feet. They can be all different shades of peach, pink, purple, or white. So choose what fits best-physically and aesthetically-in your garden.
2. Choose the right location.
Azaleas do best in moderate sun. If you can place them where they’ll receive several hours of direct sunlight in the morning, and then be in partial sun/partial shade the rest of the day, that would be excellent. If you must err one way or the other, err on the side of more rather than less sun. Many types of azaleas can handle plenty of bright sun; it’s just that the flowers’ colors may fade to a more washed out appearance more quickly.
Choose a spot where the azaleas will not be exposed to heavy wind.
The best soil for azaleas is not too clay and not too sandy. Azaleas do not handle limey soil well. They prefer a moist, acidic soil with a pH of 5 to 6.5, preferably about 5.5. Have your soil’s pH tested, and amend if necessary with compost or fertilizer. A thick mulch that retains moisture but facilitates drainage can be good for azaleas.
3. Transplant your azaleas.
Azaleas are typically purchased in pots and then transplanted to your garden. They can be planted or moved any time of the year that the ground is not frozen. Early fall is a good time so that they will have ample opportunity to settle in before the winter freeze.
Dig a planting hole twice as wide and no more than 1 1/2 times as deep as the rootball. Planting it too deep can lead to crown rot. When you transfer the plant, use your fingers to loosen the roots a bit so they’ll grow in the new soil. Place the plant so the soil level is the same as that at which it was previously growing.
Make it even more likely to thrive by adding a little rhododendron food in the hole at the dripline of the plant. Fill in the hole and water thoroughly.
4. Maintain your azaleas.
If you have the right soil, you won’t need to regularly add more fertilizer. But if you notice a yellowing of the leaves, add some acid forming fertilizer right after the plants finish blooming in the spring and mid summer. You can add some more rhododendron food at those times as well.
Keep your azaleas well watered.
Keep your eyes open for pests, but azaleas are not unusually prone to pest issues.
Azaleas do not need a great deal of pruning. Just remove dead branches, and clean up the spent flowers after blooming.
Follow these steps, and your azaleas should do fine.
Kcout, “How to Grow Azaleas!” eHow.
“Growing Azaleas.” Demesne.
“How to Plant, Grow and Care for Azaleas.” The Garden Helper.