Azaleas are one of my favorite plants. Azaleas are easy-care flowering shrubs that reward gardeners with massive blooms. They’re a must-have in your garden. Azaleas are closely related to Rhododendron, in fact, they are in the same genus. There are literally thousands of azalea varieties and cultivated hybrids available. They come in many flower colors, including red, pink, yellow and white. Though most plants flower for about two weeks in April and May, there are also summer-blooming varieties that add color and grace to any garden later in the season. Keep reading to find out more tips for growing azaleas.
Where to Plant Azaleas:
Select a location that has morning sun and afternoon shade, or filtered light. The all-day hot sun can stress these plants and make them susceptible to pests. Azaleas have shallow root systems and require well-drained soil. Azaleas grow best in USDA plant hardiness growing zones 6 to 9. Before you buy, look for plants that have deep green foliage, no yellow leaves, no wilt, and well-watered. Check the soil in the container with your finger and avoid plants that are overly dry.
How to Plant Azaleas:
Dig a planting hole that is twice as wide and just as deep as the root ball of your plant. Remove the plant from its container and place it in the planting hole so the top of the root ball is even with the soil line. Refill with soil that has been amended with compost or peat moss to help retain water and enhance root development. Water thoroughly followed up with a layer of mulch around the plant. This will help keep the soil moist.
How to water Azaleas:
With newly planted azaleas, thoroughly soak the soil two to three times a week. Keep that schedule up for at least two months after planting. You can gradually decrease the frequency of watering as the plants become rooted so in three or four months, watering only once per week should be satisfactory. After the first growing season, plants should not need supplemental water unless there is a drought.
How to Prune Azaleas:
In most landscapes, azaleas look best when minimally pruned, allowing them to retain their naturally graceful form and beauty. If you selected an azalea variety that is the proper size for where it is growing, then you shouldn’t have to prune it every year. Prune azaleas right after the blooms begin to drop. Cutting them back in late summer, fall, or winter will remove flower buds and keep the plant from blooming the following season.