Once you understand the site requirements for your azalea bush, figuring out how to care for azaleas is easy. These flowering shrubs require minimal maintenance once established. Evergreen azaleas offer year-round landscape interest and many new varieties bloom in spring, summer, AND fall instead of just spring like older azalea plants. Planting azaleas can add a lot of color and beauty to you landscape. They shine in foundation plantings to highlight and give life to your home.
How To Care For Azaleas
When choosing a spot for your azalea bush it is critical that you take into consideration the specific needs of your azalea variety. Different varieties have different needs and many factors can affect the way your azaleas grow and flower. Don’t let this intimidate you, because azaleas are very hardy and adaptable plants. When considering how to care for azaleas, it's important to understand, sunlight, watering, pruning and more.
Most azaleas prefer partial sun and partial shade. It is best to plant them in an area that receives morning sun and afternoon shade or an area that receives filtered sunlight throughout the day. Although this is their preference, they are still very adaptable plants and will grow in a variety of sunlight conditions. Many azalea varieties can handle more sunlight if they are properly watered. Azaleas that are grown in full sun will have shorter stems and more blooms; however these blooms will not last long. Azalea bushes grown in full shade will have longer stems and fewer blooms, but the blooms will last longer.
All azaleas require the same soil. These shrubs thrive in acidic well-drained soil. If you are unsure about the pH level of your soil, you can submit a soil sample through your County Extension Service to have the pH levels and soil nutrients evaluated for little to no cost. To test the drainage of your soil, dig a hole and fill it with water. If the water drains out in a couple of hours, you have good soil drainage. If the water is still sitting in the hole after 24 hours, you have poor soil drainage. To help with poor drainage, you can either build a raised bed or mix additional components into the soil to allow for better drainage. Azalea roots need access to both oxygen and moisture. In wet soil, the roots will grow close to the surface to get oxygen. In dry soil, roots will penetrate deeper into the soil in search of water.
Azaleas need about 1 inch of rainfall a week. If this need is not met, supplemental watering may be required. Watch your plant for any dryness or drooping leaves. This sign lets you know it is time to water your azalea. Watering it slow and deeply will restore the plant in a few hours.
Planting Azaleas: Get your Azalea Care Started Right
Here's how to plant azaleas:
Unpack all of your plants right away! Look for the perfect location. Make sure you are planting in the correct light conditions.
Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball. Position your plant in the hole. Make sure the top of the root ball is slightly higher than the original grade of the bed. Also check to make sure it is straight from all sides.
Water plant in the hole and fill up hole with water. This will give the plant a chance to soak up moisture and also saturate the existing soil around the hole.
Mix up the potting soil and existing soil removed from the hole. Start by back-filling soil around the root ball. Carefully pack in the soil to remove any air pockets. Water plant thoroughly again until the soil will not hold any more water. This will ensure that your new plant will be a success.
Fertilize around your plant with 1 packet of fertilizer (if purchased). Our special Fertilizer contains all of the nutrients to keep your plants growing and healthy. Repeat every 3 months..
Finish up by mulching around your new plant. Apply 2” of mulch around the plant and plant bed. Mulch will help keep the soil moist and keep weeds out.
Keep watered with a hose every 2-3 days for 2 weeks. This is critical to plant survival. The third week, begin to water as needed depending on the weather. Always check by placing your finger under the mulch to see if the soil is moist.
Fertilizer provides a huge benefit to azaleas. It increases bloom size, provides intense bloom color, plants will double size, and your azaleas will remain healthy. There are so many fertilizers on the market today, but at PlantingTree we have a special blend with minor nutrients to keep your azaleas constantly growing. For azaleas it is best to apply fertilizer right after they bloom. Apply 2 teaspoons per gallon size plant.
Mulching Around Azaleas
Azaleas have natural shallow root systems, which makes them susceptible to extreme changes in temperature. Mulch can help insulate the soil, lock in moisture, and protect the root systems from extreme temperature changes. Azaleas prefer acidic soil, so it is best to use pine straw as a mulch. However you can use any type of mulch you desire.