Azaleas are hardy shrubs that are often mistaken for rhododendrons, which are larger but in the same family. If it becomes necessary to move an azalea and transplant it elsewhere whether it has outgrown its present location or you have decided to rearrange your landscape follow these simple steps to ensure your transplant is successful. Always keep in mind that smaller plants are more successfully moved than larger, more established plants.
Transplant your azaleas in the early spring in colder climates as soon as the ground is workable. For warmer climates that have really hot summers, transplant in late fall allowing the plant time to get established before the following summer.
Prepare the planting hole before digging up the azalea you will be moving. Amend the soil where you will transplant your azalea by mixing in peat moss and compost to make a well draining soil. Azaleas also need acidic soil so If the soil is too alkaline with a pH higher than 6 acidify the soil by adding agricultural sulfur or ferrous sulfate; mix in well.
Using a sharp edged shovel it is time to dig up your azalea. Azaleas are known for having wide shallow roots so when digging up your plant dig as wide around it as possible to make sure you get most of the roots. Using your shovel cut a circular trench about 12 to 18 inches deep under the drip line of the plant or the outermost edges of the branches. Be sure to make your cuts as vertical as possible to keep from cutting off any of the roots.
Remove the azalea by placing your shovel blade in the trench you dug and pushing up gently. Continue doing this as you work your way around the plant pushing up gently on the roots. It helps to have two people moving the planting with each person on either side of the plant with their shovels in the trench and gently lifting the shrub out the hole. Place the azalea in either a wheelbarrow or on a tarp.
Dig a hole for the azalea in the newly amended soil. The hole should be about two feet deep and one foot wider than the roots of the plant. Fill half full of water and let the water drain out completely before placing the plant in the hole.
Set the plant in the hole keeping the top of the roots at the same level it was before. There should be a line on the trunk of the plant where it sat at ground level. If necessary, make a mark on the plant where the ground surface was before removing it from it's original hole where; use chalk to mark or a piece of tape.
Fill the hole halfway with water after setting the azalea in it. Fill in with soil, packing it down as you fill the hole. This eliminates air pockets around the roots. Tamp the surface of the soil down firmly with your foot or shovel. Water your plant well after planting. For the first couple of weeks keep the soil moist around your plant, but do not over water so that it forms pools in the soil.