Azaleas are colorful perennial bushes with glossy green leaves and woody stems and branches. There are many different varieties to choose from; the trick is finding the one that not only suits your individual tastes but will do well in your region and in the type of garden space you can provide. Azaleas do not require a lot of specialized care and will do well as long as their basic growing requirements are met.
Purchase your azalea plants from a nursery with experienced and knowledgeable staff. Explain the soil and light conditions, as well as the space available, and ask to be directed to the best choices for your particular situation.
Examine the plants carefully. Look for signs of disease such as a white leaf film or swollen leaves. Select plants that have strong branches, an indicator of healthy roots.
Prepare the planting site by removing all grass, weeds and rocks. Use a garden fork to loosen the soil to a depth of 5 inches.
Amend the soil in the planting area with a 4-inch layer of organic compost.
Dig a hole that is the same depth as the growing container the azalea was purchased in. Loosen the root ball from the pot by applying gentle pressure. Place the root ball into the hole, making certain the top is at soil level. Replace the soil and tamp down.
Water the azalea thoroughly at the time of planting. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch to the soil around the plant. Do not heap the mulch against the stem of the plant.
Water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Add enough to soak the soil well but not enough to make it soggy.
Check the azalea regularly for signs of insect infestation and disease. Treat promptly with fungicide or insecticide if you suspect a problem. If you are unsure about what is affecting the plant, clip off an affected leaf and take it to your local extension office for advice.
Clip off damaged or dead branches as soon as you notice them. You can prune to control shape and size after flowering is complete for the season.