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How to Care for a Potted Azalea

By April Sanders
Azaleas prefer cooler temperatures.
decorative azalea image by Igor Zhorov from Fotolia.com

Potted azaleas are frequently sold and given as gifts, especially in spring for Mother's Day. These deciduous flowering shrubs are showy when in bloom but rather particular about their care once brought inside the home. Getting these greenhouse-grown shrubs to bloom indoors is not simple, according the University of Missouri Extension. But the diligent home gardener who is attentive to the plant's needs will be rewarded with a spectacular display of brightly colored flowers.

Find a cool location for your plant. Don't plop it down on a warm windowsill. Potted azaleas need consistent temperatures of between 60 and 65 degrees F, according to the University of Missouri.

Place your blooming plant in bright but indirect sunlight. Potted azaleas need a minimum of four hours of sun exposure a day. Avoid the direct rays of the sun. Placing the plant near, but not directly against, a window covered with a curtain to filter the light works well, or place the plant near a south-facing window.

Keep the soil moist at all times. Check it every day. If the top of the soil feels dry, water until water runs freely from the bottom of the pot. If the soil has been allowed to dry out, try plunging it into a bucket of water. Hold it there until it stops "bubbling," remove it and let it drain.

Feed your potted azalea every other week with a balanced (10-10-10), water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season (spring through summer). Follow the directions on the label according to the size of your plant.

Pick off the flowers once they have faded. Not only does this improve the appearance of the plant, but it prevents some diseases from developing, according to the University of Missouri.