How to plant grow and care Azalea Plant (Ultimate Guide)

By: On:

Known as “The Royal Garden”, azaleas have long been loved for their brightly colored flowers and exceptional shape and foliage. Azaleas are among the most popular flowering shrubs in South Carolina. Let us check how to plant, grow, and care Azalea plant.

Plant enthusiasts have been selectively growing azaleas for hundreds of years. This human selection produced more than 10,000 different cultivars that are propagated by cuttings. Azalea plants can be replanted through seed by the collection of seed and germinated in the soil.

Azalea Plant
Azalea Plant

How to plant and grow Azalea plants

  • Azaleas best planting time is in early fall or late spring. Perennial azaleas perform well in partial shade with some protection from the wind.
  • Deciduous varieties flow most abundantly in full sun. Azalea needs a well-drained, humus-rich soil that is slightly acidic (pH 4.5–6).
  • Cover well. Shallow-rooted azaleas tend to dry out quickly if not fertilized. An aged oak leaf, pine needle or oak sawdust, pine, or hemlock mulch will keep the soil acidic and moist.
  • Azalea does not need much fertilizer.  Mulch will provide all the nutrients to azaleas as per its need.

Varieties that adapt to your landscape

With thousands of varieties, there are azaleas for a single combat in every landscape situation: 

  • Deciduous varieties are considered the hardiest, much-growing north to Zone 4. Such as the bright pink azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum) are still hardy in Zone 3. With few exceptions, most azaleas perennials are only reliable in zone 6.
  • Low-growing ground covering azaleas, such as ‘Joseph Hill’, a perennial with bright red flowers that grow only to about 12 inches.
  • Tall varieties include the sweet white-flowered azalea (R. arborescens), a deciduous plant that can reach 20 feet in height.
  • Rhododendrons and azaleas, both of the genuses Rhododendron, have long been late spring mainstays due to their spectacular clusters of showy flowers, in addition to the large green leaves that generally remain green during winter.
  • The flowers are tubular, funnel-shaped or bell-shaped, and generally fragrant. The leaves of the lesser azalea are usually pointed and narrow; Rhododendron leaves are generally large and leathery.

Choice and preparation of the planting site

  • Most large-leaved varieties require a mottled shade; avoid deep shade or full sun. The sunny spot that receives a few hours of shade is perfect.
  • The soil must be drained well, humus-rich, moist, and acidic (pH 4.5-6).
  • Modify planting areas with compost, peat, or a substitute, only if the soil is poor. Learn more about soil amendments and preparing the soil for planting
  • Azaleas have shallow root systems and need moist soil and mulch to keep them from drying out.
  • Sowing in cold or temperate regions (Zones 3 to 6)
  • Plant in full sun to grow flowers and prevent mold problems. Shrubs need a minimum of 6 hours of sun a day. 
  • Plant on the protected side of a windbreaker. If it is subjected to cold and dry winds, its leaves and shoots dry out and die. 
  • Planting in hot or warm regions (zones 7 to 11)
  • Plant in a spot that receives shade in the afternoon, especially in warm areas. In tropical areas, azaleas bloom in full shade.

How to plant Azaleas

Plant in spring or early fall. Space the plants 2 to 6 feet apart, depending on their estimated mature size. Dig a hole as deep as the root and twice as wide.

Define new plants so that their top roots are at or slightly below ground level. If you plant them deeper, the roots can rot. Fill the hole halfway with soil, and then water it well to settle the soil before filling it with the rest of the soil.

In general, don’t prune spring flowering shrubs, such as azaleas and rhododendrons. If you need to reduce the height, prune after flowering in the spring. Otherwise, just remove dead, damaged, or diseased branches at any time of the year.

On both young and old plants, simply tear off the spent flower stems by bending them until they separate from the stems. Take care not to damage the growth shoots at the base of each flower stem.

You may like following gardening blogs:

Where is the best place to plant Azaleas

Where is the best place to plant Azaleas? The Azaleas are often found growing in and near forests edges and well-drained acidic soil, rich in organic matter. They have a shallow, fibrous root system that should be considered when caring for them.

Azaleas look good in full sun or partial shade (about four hours of sun). Planted in full sun, azaleas will be more compact and flowery. When planted in partial shade, they spread out into the sunlight and form a more graceful habit; the flowers will not be as abundant, but they will last longer.

Avoid planting near highly reflective walls, unless you are on the north side of the building or in the shade. Windy places are problematic: in winter, winds, and sun can dry out foliage, especially perennial azaleas. Deciduous azaleas are more forgiving. Azaleas need good soil structure and enough organic matter so that their shallow roots don’t dry out.

On the other hand, azaleas can suffocate from excess water and poor drainage; the compaction of the soil around the foundation and patios is a common problem. When correcting the soil, it is better to prepare the entire bed rather than just the planting pit to create a uniform condition so that the spread of fibrous roots is encouraged. As a general rule, the soil should contain between 5 and 10% organic matter.

What is the best time of year to plant Azaleas

Plant deciduous and evergreen azaleas while they are dormant. In warm, temperate winter climates in USDA zones 8 and 9, azaleas should be planted between November and February.

Plant them in the fall immediately after deciduous trees drop their leaves or in early spring before they begin to put new leaves in colder USDA zones 3 to 7. In very cold USDA zones 3 and 4, planting in fall should be done between mid-August and mid-September.

Plant grown azaleas as soon as possible if purchased in late spring, summer, or early fall. Moisten the soil around your roots if it begins to dry out before planting. Although this is not the best time to plant azaleas, they can survive as long as they are properly planted and watered often enough to keep the soil moist.

Plant bare root azaleas in late winter or early spring as soon as they arrive. They should be planted after the soil has thawed, but before the deciduous trees in the area begin to form leaves.

How do you take care of an Azalea bush

grow and care Azalea Plant
grow and care Azalea Plant

Azaleas are a subgenus of flowering shrubs that can grow up to 6 feet tall and produce numerous large flowers in pink, purple, red, or white. They bloom during the spring and can be deciduous or evergreen, depending on the species.

Azalea bushes live long with proper care, as some plants can live up to 50 years. Azalea bushes require only routine maintenance to survive in most of the world’s temperate climates.

If you want to take care of your Azalea bush you need to follow these steps:

Step-1: Plant azalea bushes in a location that receives morning sun and partial shade in the afternoon, when the temperature peaks. Make sure the soil is well-drained and fertile by spreading 1 to 2 inches of organic matter over the surface and using a garden profile to incorporate it into the soil.

Step-2: Dig a hole twice as wide, slightly shallower than the root of the azalea bush. Place the azalea bush in the hole, with the top of the root just above ground level. Completely refill the hole with soil and water to remove air pockets.

Step-3: Water the azalea bushes three times a week during spring and summer. Submerge the soil around the plants so that the shallow root system comes in contact with as much moisture as possible. Reduce watering during the fall and winter to once a week and only in the weeks with less than 1 inch of rain.

Step-4: Feed azalea bushes three times a year with a 16-4-8 high-nitrogen fertilizer. Apply once in March, again in May and a third time in September. Water the soil before and after application to avoid burns to the roots due to the high nitrogen content of the fertilizer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper dosage.

Step-5: Remove spent blossoms from azalea bushes once a year, pinching them as close to the branch as possible. This will stimulate the growth of new flowers and prevent the azalea bushes from forming seeds. Use pruning shears to remove dead and injured branches in late winter, just before spring growth begins.

How big do Azalea plants grow

There are azaleas that cover low- growing soil, plants that grow 1 to 2 feet, as well as plants that can grow up to 25 feet tall. They come in many flower colors, including pink, red, white, yellow, and purple. Although most plants bloom in spring, there are also varieties of summer flowers that add color and charm to the garden.

If you plant in full sun, expect to grow more compact plants with lots of flowers. However, these flowers generally do not last as long as azaleas in the shade. When choosing a location, you should space the plants 2 to 6 feet apart to accommodate future growth.

Are Azaleas toxic to Dogs

Are Azaleas toxic to Dogs? Yes, Azalea flowering bushes are poisonous plants for dogs and cause serious gastrointestinal problems. They can also cause weakness, lack of coordination, and weak heart rate. They can be fatal to dogs if eaten in large quantities.

These plants contain grayanotoxins that disrupt sodium channels that affect skeletal and heart muscle. All parts of the plant are considered poisonous, and just ingesting 0.2% of an animal’s body weight can cause poisoning. When ingested, clinical signs include gastrointestinal. The general prognosis is acceptable with treatment.

Is Epsom Salt Good For Azaleas

If magnesium deficiencies are common in your area, azaleas may suffer. The main plant nutritional element found in Epsom salts is magnesium, in oxidized form, along with sulfur. If the soil test shows that your soil is low in magnesium, Epsom salts may be a solution.

The roots of the azalea can absorb magnesium in environments suitable soil, unless for some reason or another do not. Sandy soils that drain very quickly generally have a higher risk of magnesium deficiency than clays or loams.

Older, worn soils are also prone to magnesium deficiency. If your soil is extremely acidic, magnesium can be bound in a way that is not available to plant roots. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include yellowing of the leaves, especially noticeable on mature foliage; premature leaf fall; and general lack of vigor of the plant.

Many seasoned gardeners simply toss a handful of Epsom salts around the bases of azaleas or other shrubs. Others prefer to dilute half a cup of crystals in water and then water their bushes with the mixture.

The National Gardening Association recommends applying Epsom salts mixed with water as a foliar spray for best results. Research trials, conducted with such sprays on pepper plants, showed a greater amount of absorption than that experienced by plants treated with root irrigation or dry applications of Epsom salts.

Do Azaleas like Coffee Grounds

Coffee beans that have already been through the fermentation process are considered moderate to very acidic. Coffee powder provides a natural way to keep the pH levels that azaleas prefer low, especially if alkalinity is a concern. However, soil pH tends to change because growing conditions change daily.

Azaleas prefer acid forming fertilizers, like 15-5-15, blind application of fertilizers on unverified soils can result in disaster. For the most accurate results, home gardeners should retest balanced soil with a home pH kit immediately before applying corrections.

If the soil is already in the lower limit of the acidic range, the use of coffee grounds is unnecessary. However, if the pH has increased, the soil helps lower that number. Also, coffee beans can help suppress fungal diseases in plants.

How to apply coffee powder to soil under azaleas is not yet a specific science, and as the texture can be very heavy and compact for use in the soil, gardeners should consider adding it to compost. Experts suggest that not be added more than 2.5 % of the volume of coffee beans to the compost.

Since azaleas thrive in soils covered in organic matter, like compost, using a coffee laden groundcover is a worthwhile undertaking. Gardeners should apply a 2 to 3-inch layer of compost to the soil around the azalea plant without pressing it against the stems. Mulch locks in moisture and prevents weed growth.

Is Azalea a perennial or annual

Azaleas are not perennial or annual. They are shrubs with woody branches that last year after year. Some azaleas, however, are not cold hardy and freeze below 25 degrees F and are treated as single-season plants, like annuals.

Annuals are plants that sprout, bloom, sow seeds, and die within a year. Some examples are marigolds, zinnias, and cosmos. Perennials have root systems that last from year to year, although the leaves often die off in the fall. Peonies, Shasta daisies, and lilies are evergreen. Some plants, such as flowering tobacco, are perennials in frost-free climates but are grown as annuals, where winters are more severe.

The shrubs have a woody structure of branches above the ground that persists from year to year, and azaleas are among these plants. Some tender shrubs, such as lantana, are also grown as annuals in the north, but they are not true annuals because they do not complete their life in one year.

Do Azaleas like a lot of water

  • Azaleas like to stay moist, but not soggy. Always water deeply when watering. This will help prevent brown tips on the leaves caused by salts in the water. Water only when the surface of the soil begins to dry.
  • In cool, shady places, this can happen only two to three times a month, depending on the weather. During the summer, in warm, sunny areas, you may need to water every three to four days. If in doubt, do not pour the azaleas that tolerate drought better than soggy soil.
  • Azaleas should be planted in well-drained soil. If your azalea looks like someone brought you a torch, it was probably planted in heavy, hard or loamy soil that drains slowly.
  • The appearance of an overwatered azalea is deceptive because the plant tends to appear drier than normal, and the leaves may turn brown. Naturally, you assume that the poor need more water and you water even more.
  • The Phytophthora fungus is found in waterlogged soils and is responsible for a significant percentage of azalea victims. The plant shows little vigor at first, and then begins to look dry, the leaves turn brownish-green, and there is no new growth.

What part of the Azalea is poisonous to dogs

Many plants contain toxins that make your dog sick, but azalea is one of the few plants that contain cardiovascular toxins (gray toxins) capable of weakening your dog’s heartbeat to the point of falling into a coma and dying.

Azalea bushes should be avoided in any garden where dogs and cats family can eat. Azaleas contain substances called grayantoxins, which are present in all parts of the plant. In fact, toxins are even present in the honey found in azalea flowers. Therefore, all parts of the azalea will be toxic to your dog.

How do you keep Azaleas blooming

To keep your azalea blooming, you can use the following techniques:

Azaleas blooming
  • Choose varieties of azaleas suitable for your typical winter temperatures so that the plants receive the necessary cooling to go into torpor. Experts recommend four to eight weeks of cooling below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the variety. Less cold can prevent plants from going into total dormancy or “waking” them early, resulting in fewer blooms. Cool potted azaleas in a basement or garage where the temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep indoor plants cool in spring, such as temperatures between 45 and 55 degrees F at night and no more than 20 degrees F during the day to maximize flowering.
  • Clean the flowers by pinching their base, not the bud growing underneath, and complete any pruning immediately after bloom. Subsequent pruning increases recovery time during the period when the plants would normally create buds for the next season’s bloom.
  • Place your azalea in bright light to encourage flowering. Light levels at the edges of forests or in swamps at latitudes where azaleas thrive, although classified as shady, are actually quite high. Place your plants outdoors where they receive bright, filtered light and gentle morning sun. Keep houseplants near an east or west window or place them next to a window with a clear covering so they have enough light to flourish well.
  • Keep azalea roots moist, never wet. Heavy, flooded soil stresses plants, and stress suppresses flowering. Therefore, place the plants in sandy soil and water frequently to keep humidity levels constant for the best flower production. Water the potted plants well, but let them drain completely before returning them to the pot or saucer. Cover the shallow roots of the azalea with 5 to 7 cm of pine bark or pine needles to conserve soil moisture.
  • Provide fertility instead of adding fertilizers. The clay soil, rich in organic substances, such as leaf mold and humus, resembles the native forest floor that nourishes azaleas. Chemical fertilizers often contain high doses of nitrogen, which stimulates foliage growth rather than flowers.

Do Azaleas bloom more than once a year

Do Azaleas bloom more than once a year? Yes, Azaleas usually bloom in March or April. New cultivars have been developed that bloom later (in May and June) and a new type of mineral e NC blooms twice in spring and again in late summer.

Since most azaleas bloom only once a year, for about two weeks, planting several varieties of azaleas allows you to enjoy a profusion of flowers over a longer period, as The Augusta Chronicle notes.

What is the best Azalea fertilizer

The azalea does not need any special fertilizer if organic matter and dry leaves are worked in the soil. If the soil is not tested, select a general and balanced fertilizer simply like 15-15-15. The numbers refer to the proportional amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the product.

The nutrient your azalea probably needs is nitrogen. This also encourages the bush to grow faster. Most azalea fertilizer recommendations are based on nitrogen. In fact, the roots of the azalea can extend three times the distance from the trunk to the tips of the branches.

If this distance is 91 cm, you will need to fertilize the soil 9 ft (3 m) from the trunk. Draw a circle on the ground with the trunk as the center and 9 feet (3 m) as the radius. Sprinkle the fertilizer grains all over the area and water well. Be sure to wash off all the azalea fertilizer grains that fall on the foliage.

It is not necessary to establish an azalea fertilization schedule, as these shrubs do not need to be fertilized during the growing season. Fertilize only when plants show signs of needing azalea fertilizer. Never fertilize during a drought, when the plant will not have access to enough water.

If you use fresh sawdust or wood chips as mulch on your azaleas, you will probably need to fertilize the plants. As these products break down, they use nitrogen from the soil.

How many times a year do Azaleas bloom

How many times a year do Azaleas bloom? An Encore Azalea plant blooms more than once a year. This group is called Encore Azaleas are rebloomers. There are more than thirty varieties of Encore alone.

Many azaleas bloom in the spring with a beautiful display, and that’s all they will do for the year. But some azaleas bloom in spring, bloom again in mid-summer, and bloom again in fall.

Some are small plants, others grow to medium size, and some grow quite large. Azaleas require a certain amount of extra care that you don’t necessarily need to take with other plants. Azaleas require a bed or a place where the soil is open and loose. Clay soil is not very good.

They should be watered regularly, especially in summer. They take a bit more effort, but if you’re ready for it, the flowers they throw out make the work worth it.

Azalea Plant growing tips

Should Azaleas be pruned after flowering

Prune azaleas soon after they bloom in the spring or early summer. The perfect time is when the spent flowers begin to discolor and wilt. Cut them in late summer, autumn or winter, remove the buttons of flowers and avoid flourish.

In most landscapes, azaleas look best when minimally pruned, allowing them to maintain their naturally graceful shape. Remove lost shoots by reaching into the plant and making cuts near the larger woody branches. This allows the movement of sunlight and air into the center of the shrub, promoting healthy new growth.

How far back do you trim Azaleas

It can also take up to 3 years for the plant to bloom again if you cut the bush that much. If you need to take drastic measures, we recommend leaving 2 main branches at least 2 feet tall and cutting the other main branches 6 inches tall. That way, there are at least some branches that are not completely cut off.

Other ways to trim your azaleas by prune each stem and allow them to fill at the same time. With this method, you will see a lot of new growth in the first year, but it won’t flower until the second or third year. In the third year, the azalea will once again be a compact and attractive shrub.

Do Azaleas need pruning

Azaleas generally don’t require a lot of pruning. Most gardeners want these graceful shrubs to maintain their natural, relaxed shape. But if neglected for a few years, the branches can overgrow, suffocating the sun and air in the center of the bush. In that case, it is time for pruning rehabilitation.

Can Azaleas live in Pots

If you are planning to decorate a patio, porch or terrace, or live and grow a garden in an area of the USDA very north and too cold to grow them outdoors all year, azaleas are a great candidate for the pot gardens. In areas where they are winter hardy, the pots can be left outdoors all year round. Where they are not resistant, you can move the pots indoors for the winter.

Be sure to choose a container with a drainage hole at the bottom and one that is large enough to allow 2-3 years of growth before changing your azalea to a larger container. This could mean that your pot would be 15 inches or wider than the root of the plant.

Should you Deadhead Azaleas

The removal of flowers azalea dead prevents the plant devotes all his energy to form seed heads. By deadheading each spring or summer, you ensure that your azaleas put all their energy into creating buds for next year’s flowers. It also helps prevent disease, as rainy weather can cause mold on dead flowers.

You can also deadhead your azalea plant by following these instructions:

  • Examine the branches of the azalea for a spot between the new leaves and the stem of the old flower.
  • Place your fingers just below the dead azalea flower.
  • Avoid forming buttons (they look like little brown buttons); these are next year’s flowers, and if you remove them, your azalea may not bloom next year. 
  • Press your fingers together.
  • Twist or bend your wrist to pluck off lost azalea flowers.
  • Repeat until all dead flowers are removed from the azalea plant.
  • Use clean clippers if the azalea can withstand manual filling.
  • Place the spent flowers in a bucket or other container that is easy to transport.
  • Don’t drop them on the ground around the azalea; this can spread the disease quickly.
  • Throw away any flowers or leaves that may be infected in a plastic bag and a trash can.
  • Plants with petal blight fungus have spots on the underside of the petals that eventually cause the flowers to appear discolored; azaleas with fungal leaf spots have dark brown or red spots on the leaves; withered mushroom plants have wrinkled leaves.
  • Throw uninfected flowers or dead leaves into the compost bin or trash can.
  • The azalea can be pruned when it is done blooming and all dead flowers are removed.

Do this immediately and you will have plenty of flowers next spring; delay pruning and you will avoid new flowers next year.

I hope this blog post helps you to the below questions and answers on Azalea Plants.

  • Azalea Plant growing tips
  • How to plant and grow Azalea plants
  • Where is the best place to Plant Azaleas
  • What is the best time of year to Plant Azaleas
  • How do you take care of an Azalea bush
  • How big do Azalea plants grow
  • Are Azaleas toxic to Dogs
  • Is Epsom Salt Good For Azaleas
  • Do Azaleas like Coffee Grounds
  • Is Azalea perennial or annual
  • Do Azaleas like a lot of water
  • What part of the Azalea is poisonous to dogs
  • How do you keep Azaleas blooming
  • Do Azaleas bloom more than once a year
  • What is the best Azalea fertilizer
  • How many times a year do Azaleas bloom
  • Should Azaleas be pruned after flowering
  • How far back do you trim Azaleas
  • Do Azaleas need pruning
  • Can Azaleas live in Pots
  • Should you Deadhead Azaleas