Outdoor plants

Azaleas: A Care and Grow Guide

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I maintain that there鈥檚 no more beautiful sight than an azalea in spring. A sister of the rhododendron family, this gorgeous plant spends the flowering season bedecked with blossoms, beguiling passers-by with vibrant pink, peach, and even orange florets.

Azalea care

Once established, caring for an azalea plant is quite simple. The key is to ensure you choose a suitable planting location i.e., somewhere that is fairly isolated and positioned in a cool, shaded area 鈥 you don鈥檛 want the sun to burn those gorgeous leaves. You should also plant azalea in spring. I personally like positioning this shrub against the background of conifers or other plants that enjoy acidity.

To promote growth, I鈥檝e found adding mulch around the bottom of the bush helps to retain moisture, conserve soil temperature, and minimise weeds. I also recommend keeping mulch at least two inches from the trunk circumference to prevent insect infestation.

Common NameAzalea
Botanical NameRhododendron spp.
FamilyEricaceae
Plant TypeDeciduous or evergreen shrub
Mature Size3鈥20 ft. tall, wide
Soil TypeLight, well-drained
Soil pHAcidic (4.5 to 6.0)
Bloom TimeEarly spring to summer
Flower ColorWhite, pink, red, orange, peach
Hardiness Zones6b-8a (USDA); varies by species
Native AreasAsia, Europe, North America
 ToxicityToxic to humans and pets


How to trim azaleas

Many people like to prune their azalea bushes to control height. If you don鈥檛 want your shrub to take over, I recommend only reaching for your sheers after blooming has finished in spring. Azaleas bloom from old wood, so cutting new growth after blooming season won鈥檛 interfere with next year鈥檚 blossoms.

If you鈥檝e got children or pets around, take care; rhododendron and azalea are extremely dangerous if consumed.聽Both the plant鈥檚 leaves and flowers are toxic.聽In serious situations, azalea has caused abnormal heart rates, stomach irritation, convulsions, coma and even death鈥攕o beware.

Planting azaleas

If you鈥檙e planting azaleas, you鈥檒l be pleased to hear that they fit well in gardens both big and small. For instance, low-lying azalea bushes grow to 1 or 2 feet, while a towering wall of blossoms could quickly swell to 4 or 5 times that, adding an incredible backdrop to your landscape.聽Rhododendrons achieve even greater heights; some can reach 80 feet high!

Theoretically, you can plant azalea at any time of year, but for the best results, I鈥檇 aim for spring or autumn. Choose a location that has well-drained soil. You want plenty of moisture but not enough to have continually wet roots. Also, an acidic soil is preferred. You can mix organic matter into this to ensure your azalea is receiving enough nutrients.

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