Azaleas are flowering shrubs that belong to the rhododendron family. Some azaleas are evergreen, and others are deciduous. All azaleas bloom once a year, between March and April. The leaves of the plant are deep green, and the trumpet-shaped flowers come in a variety of colors including pink, yellow and white. To keep your azalea strong and healthy, adhere to a few planting rules.
Time of Year
Plant azaleas during the cool weather of early spring or early fall. The roots need to establish themselves before the temperatures get too high. If an azalea is planted in late spring, it is essential that you water it frequently to keep the soil moist and cool while the root system develops.
Azaleas need soil that drains quickly in order to develop properly. The azalea root system is very delicate and cannot tolerate sitting in water even for short periods of time. To test for water drain rate, dig a hole for the azalea and fill it completely with water. If any water remains in the hole after an hour, the water does not drain well enough for an azalea. Fix this problem by mixing the soil with gardening sand at a ratio of 1:1.
Azaleas thrive when planted on the north or east side of a home or building. The plants also need varying exposure to sun throughout the day. It needs full sun, but not for too long, and needs to rest in shade as well. The ideal location for an azalea bush is in the shade of a tall tree with the lower branches removed.
To retain moisture and protect the azalea's root system, mulch should be piled at the base of the bush. For best results, mulch with shredded leaves, pine needles or pine bark. Avoid using shredded hard wood, because they make the soil too alkaline.
Fertilizer is generally not needed for azaleas. In fact, fertilizing the azalea increases the amount of foliage, which may increase the plant's vulnerability to pests. The natural mulch that you pile on the roots provides the essential nutrients the azalea needs in order to develop healthy foliage and blossoms.