Azaleas are perennial plants that are members of the rhododendron family. The plants are large flowering bushes that bloom for about two weeks in the spring and are then left with greenery. Azaleas come in many different colors ranging from white, to soft pink and bright fuchsia. They are easy-growing flowers that tolerate shade and will often grow under trees.
The best place to plant your azaleas is in an area that will get partial shade year round. Too much sun can cause the leaves to drop and too much shade will cause a weak plant with sparse flowering. An ideal location is near the base of a shade tree but not too close to the roots where it will have to compete with larger roots for nutrients. The plant is not very drought-tolerant and will eventually begin to die out after a few years if it is exposed to consistently high temperatures and lack of water.
Azaleas thrive best in acidic soils with a pH of 4.5 to 6.0. Lime is added to raise the pH and sulfur is used to lower the pH so that you can obtain the correct soil acidity for your plants. Soil tests can tell you which additives you will need to use. The soil should also be rich and well drained. Organic compost is good to add into the soil before you plant so that the azaleas will have plenty of nourishment.
The hole for your azalea plants should be two to three times wider than the root ball and at least a few inches deeper. Place the plant in the hole and center it before it is covered up. A liquid fertilizer can be added into the hole with the flowers before you cover them up so the plants will establish themselves quickly. An azalea will grow quickly and will make a large plant in just a few years. The blooms are often so close together that the plant will appear like one giant bloom of color.
Pay close attention to the health of your azaleas. They can deteriorate quickly. Leaf drop is normal in the fall when cooler weather comes. The leaves will remain green and turn a paler shade of yellow before falling. The color of the leaves in the summertime can indicate a problem with your azaleas. If the leaves begin to get brown and fall off during the summer it can mean that your plants are getting too much water or not enough water. It can also mean that you are fertilizing your plants too much. You can dig up the plant and check the roots. If the roots are brown and mushy then the plant is getting too much water or it could be the sign of root rot.