How to care for azaleas

How to care for azaleas

Table of Contents

Azaleas – bright and vibrant in shades of purple, pink, orange, and yellow – sometimes get a bad reputation as being difficult plants to care for. However, this isn’t the case. With a little tender loving care, these beautiful springtime plants are a low-maintenance and winning addition to your home or garden.

If you have been putting off planting this shrub because of a belief that azaleas are hard to grow, or perhaps are wondering what an azalea plant is, this article is here to help! We will look at how to plant azaleas and the best care to give these bright, bulbous flowers so they can brighten up your home and garden.

Read on for the best azalea plant care instructions for both indoor and outdoor azalea care.

Where to plant azaleas?

These plants grow well in pots which means you can keep them as both outdoor and indoor shrubs. Plants.com has a beautiful azalea houseplant that you can purchase here.

If growing indoors, you can take care of azaleas by placing them in areas of bright – but not direct – sunlight that are well-ventilated. You want to ensure the temperature remains cool, around 60 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit (16° – 18° Celsius). A conservatory, for example, would be ideal.

If growing outdoors, take care to plant them in a shaded environment – either under or near trees or in a shady woodland border where they have access to partial, dappled sunlight. If you’re wondering when to plant azaleas, the best time in the US is typically in the Spring or Fall, though Fall is preferred as they are easier to care for in the cooler temperatures.

Once you have chosen your ideal spot, where you place your plant in the soil is of equal importance. Azaleas have shallow roots and so need only be planted just below the surface of the soil.

For a healthy shrub that will be easy to care for, dig a hole that is shallow but wide and place the rootball in it so it will rest just below the soil surface. Then, you just need to back fill the hole with special soil – which we will discuss next.

Azalea planting tips

There are very specific azalea soil requirements to ensure optimum care of this bright spring shrub. The best soil for azaleas is a rich and acidic soil with a Ph level of around 5.5. This will nourish and care for it.

To find out if you can grow these shrubs in your soil, look at your neighbors’ gardens to see if acidic plants are flourishing or use a pH tester to see what kind of soil you’re working with. Exerting this level of care will reap dividends in the end.

If your soil isn’t acidic enough, you can alter its conditions to create a more caring environment by adding shredded pine bark, acidic compost and well-rotted oak leaves to your soil. Once you have taken care to achieve the acidity you need, you must also ensure the soil is well-drained, moist, and full of organic matter. When that is done, you are ready to plant and care for your shrub!

How to care for azaleas

First, let’s look at how to keep azaleas healthy indoors. These plants tend to dry out quickly so to adequately care for them, make sure to check them daily during dry or hot weather and water whenever the top of the soil is dry to touch. If possible, use rainwater for better azalea plant care, as it is less alkaline than tap water.  

For extra care, use acid-formulated fertilizer to feed your plant once a month between spring and the end of summer. Another option for azalea care is to use a slow-release fertilizer a few times during the season.

If you’re wondering how to prune an azalea, it couldn’t be easier! Deadhead the plant regularly to promote ongoing flowering. If the plant looks straggly when it has flowered, prune it immediately. Remember that if you prune too close to blooming time, you might reduce the amount of flowers.

How to look after azaleas outdoors

There are a few things to keep in mind when approaching azalea care outdoors. Once you’ve placed it in well-drained soil in a shady area, show extra care by applying mulch to conserve water. This will help protect the plant from common diseases such as petal blight, leaf spots, and root rot.

Apart from that, once established, azaleas require little care. Prune as needed – when the flowering period is over – but mostly let the plant take care of itself!

That’s it! As you can see, the myth that azaleas are difficult to care for is just that, a myth. This vibrant flowering plant practically takes care of itself – see for yourself by planting this beauty in your garden today!

Do azaleas need to be cut back?

Occasionally it will be necessary to prune your shrub so that it can regrow new blooms. However, take care not to cut back too much – most guidelines recommend leaving two main branches that are at least two feet tall.

What happens if azaleas get too much sun?

Too much sunlight will burn the tender leaves of the plant.

Is compost good for azaleas?

Like rhododendrons, azaleas need the care of acid-rich soil in order to thrive. Therefore, make sure to choose an ericaceous compost which will be acidic.

How do I make my soil more acidic for azaleas?

Adding organic matter like mulch combined with wood chips, pine needles, or shredded oak leaves will make your soil more acidic.


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