How to Care for Southern Azaleas


Southern azaleas were introduced in Charleston, South Carolina in 1848. It was a hybrid able to withstand the heat of the South. Today, there are many varieties of azaleas. Colors range from red, pink, orange and purple to peach, white and mixed colors. There are early-, mid- and late-season bloomers that can give your landscape beautiful flowers from spring until first frost. Once established, azalea bushes require little care and maintenance.

Step 1

Place a 2-inch layer of compost over the root area of the shrub in the early spring. This will add nutrients to the soil and supply some needed oxygen to help begin the growing season.

Step 2

Spread a 5-inch layer of organic mulch over the soil under the spread of the shrub. This is especially important in the South as it helps keep the shallow roots cool. It will also stop weeds from competing for water and nutrition and help retain moisture.

Step 3

Water the shrubs to keep the soil moist throughout the growing season. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are best as they supply the water slowly and thoroughly, keeping it around the root zone, without wetting the foliage. If you use overhead irrigation, water early in the morning to give the foliage time to dry out.

Step 4

Apply an azalea-specific fertilizer, beginning when the shrub flowers. Florida azaleas benefit from more frequent but weaker applications of fertilizer due to their high water needs and sandy soil. Follow manufacturer's directions on how much to apply per size of the shrub.

Step 5

Prune azaleas after flowering, using pruning shears. Cut any out-of-place branches. Older shrubs can be cut back to 6 to 12 inches from the ground to rejuvenate them and create a bushier look. Damaged, dead or diseased branches may be cut off at any time.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Organic mulch
  • Drip irrigation or soaker hoses
  • Azalea-specific fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • University of Georgia Cooperative Extension: Selecting and Growing Azaleas
  • University of Florida Extension: Azalea Zeal
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension System: Azaleas
Keywords: azalea care, growing azalea shrubs, southern azaleas

About this Author

Dale DeVries is a retired realtor with 30 years of experience in almost every facet of the business. DeVries started writing in 1990 when she wrote advertising and training manuals for her real estate agents. Since retiring, she has spent the last two years writing well over a thousand articles online for Associated Content, Bright Hub and Demand Studios.