The Piedmont azalea is a variety that produces fragrant white or deep pink flowers in the spring season. The plant is large growing and reaches a height and spread of 6 feet or more. Piedmont azaleas are hardy to plant in USDA growing zones 6 through 9 and prefer a moist soil but will not tolerate standing water as the root system is shallow.
Select a planting location for the Piedmont azalea that has an acidic, well-draining soil and moderate shade. Azalea plants will hold their flowers longer when the sun is filtered but not fully shaded. Test the soil pH as the plants prefer an acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 6.0. Amend the soil to lower the pH by working in ground rock sulfur. Apply water after adding sulfur and let it rest for 2 weeks before planting.
How to Plant
Prepare the planting area by working several inches of organic compost into the soil. Dig a hole that is the same depth as the Piedmont azalea root ball and slightly wider. Set the plant into the hole making sure the top of the root ball is even with the ground. Gently pack the soil around the root ball and water well to moisten the ground and eliminate air pockets. Space the plants 6 feet apart to provide enough room for the mature branch spread. Do not fertilize the azalea at the time of planting as this can damage the roots.
Care and Maintenance
Water the Piedmont azalea plant regularly with deep soakings that penetrate the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches once the ground becomes dry. Do not spray the plants with water as this will increase the chance of fungal disease. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the azalea, leaving a 3-inch gap between the start of the mulch and stem of the plant. Prune the plants after they bloom to remove dead and damaged branches, tall growth and suckers growing out of the ground near the stem of the plant.
Propagate the Piedmont azalea by taking semi-hardwood stem cuttings in mid-summer. Select new growth branches that are beginning to harden. Dip the cut end of the branch in rooting hormone and stick it in a planting container filled with sterile rooting medium that is moist. Place the cuttings in a warm location until roots have formed. Transplant the stems into individual 3-inch-diameter planting containers once the roots reach 1 inch or more in length.
Monitor the azalea plant for leaf chlorosis which has the symptoms of dark-green veins with yellow areas caused by either an iron deficiency or poor water drainage. Apply 1 ounce of ferrous sulfate to each 10 square feet of soil to see if the plant improves. A plant that does not improve in several weeks will most likely have a damaged root system due to water stress. Remove the plant and amend the soil to increase the water draining ability as there is no treatment for root rot.