How to Care for Potted Azaleas

Overview

Many municipalities use azaleas as a screen or buffer in freeway medians, and it's often used as ornamental plants in public areas. That's because the plant is hardy. About the only requirement is that the soil have as little lime as possible. Azaleas will be easy to maintain and will bloom beautifully if you keep the soil in your azalea's pot at a pH level between 5.5 and 6.

Step 1

Place your potted azalea in a shady spot or an area that receives dappled sunlight. The ideal light is brief moments of sunlight, perhaps under a large tree that allows bits of filtered sunlight through.

Step 2

Water your potted azalea every other day if it is in complete shade, and every day if it receives partial sun.

Step 3

Established azalea plants usually don't require fertilizer, according to Dr. Glen Jamieson of the American Rhododendron Society. If the soil lacks nutrients and you decide to fertilize, apply it in the late fall or early spring while the plant is dormant. A good organic fertilizer is cottonseed meal. Your gardening supply center will have a number of fertilizers manufactured especially for azaleas.

Step 4

Prune your azalea as soon as it finishes blooming. Use clippers to remove dead branches and long, stray shoots, especially those at the top of the plant. When pruning, cut the branches back until you see green wood.

Step 5

Pot your plant again every year when the blooming cycle is complete. Loosen the root ball and, before re-planting add compost, manure, peat moss or other organic matter. Your azalea can remain in the same pot for two or three years.

Step 6

Check the leaves and soil frequently for signs of pests and disease. Azalea caterpillars are destructive but can be removed by hand. Creme-colored azalea lace bugs are almost transparent, will nest on the underside of the leaves, and can be removed with insecticidal soap. The most common azalea diseases include azalea gall, which attacks new growth; petal blight, a fungus that affects the the azalea flowers; and powdery mildew, quite common in the fall and requires a fungicidal treatment. Rust, another fungal disease, is deadly to the plant. It can be identified by orange masses of spores on leaves or bark. The only way to stop this disease is by pruning and disposing of the infected parts of the plant. Before using the pruning shears again, disinfect them by soaking in a bleach and water solution.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Clippers
  • Peat moss
  • Organic matter
  • Insecticidal soap, if needed
  • Fungicide, if needed
  • Bleach, if needed

References

  • Azalea Society of America
  • Garden Way
  • Journal American Rhododendron Society

Who Can Help

  • Gardening Know How
  • Pruning Tips For Beginners
Keywords: potted azalea, growing azaleas, flowering shrubs

About this Author

Bridget Kelly has been a writer since 2005. With a background in real-estate sales, she blogs professionally and provides articles to national and regional real-estate websites and publications. An apprentice master gardener, Kelly enjoys gardening and writing about gardening topics. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.