Care of Azaleas

If planted in a favorable location and given the proper growing conditions, azaleas are easy, carefree, and long-lived plants. The trick is in having, creating, or finding those favorable growing conditions.

Choosing a Location

Azaleas can grow in sun as well as in shade, but their flowering season will be longer with morning sun and afternoon shade. An azalea needs to be...

    Well-drained, but moist. Azalea feeder roots extend only about 8 inches into the soil and need to be watered during times of drought. They do not thrive in soggy wet areas.

    Well-supplied with peat moss, chopped oak leaves, or oak compost to keep the soil relatively acid (pH below 6.0) and light.

    Sheltered from drying winter winds by a building, evergreens, or other shrubs

Perfect spots:

The north, northeast, or east sides of a building or stand of evergreens

Filtered shade under tall trees

Proper Planting

Azaleas can be planted at ANY TIME of the growing year, even when in full bloom. Spring and fall are ideal times for planting. Summer is okay if you give extra care to watering.

 Azaleas should be planted high, with 1/8 to 1/4 of the rootball above the existing ground level. This ensures proper drainage. Dig the planting hole at least twice as wide as the rootball. If the azalea has been in a container, be sure to loosen the roots gently. Place the plant in the hole, add a mix of original soil and peat moss or composted leaves, and pack in firmly. Mound the soil up to the top of the rootball. Water in well, and mulch 2-3" deep making sure to keep mulch away from the stem of the plant.

Summer Care of Azaleas

Winter Care of Azaleas

Protection from winter wind and sun is especially important for the evergreen varieties. Due to their shallow root systems, azaleas cannot reach below the frost line and transmit water to their leaves when the ground is frozen. Yet their evergreen leaves constantly transpire water, even in the coldest winter. Sun and wind at this vulnerable time can be deadly.

Apply several inches of mulch to protect roots by moderating the soil temperature. This process will also lessen damage from rapid freezing and thawing. Remove the mulch in stages in spring as the weather warms. For especially windy or unprotected locations, try a burlap screen to protect azaleas from winter dehydration.