How & When To Plant Azaleas: 8 Easy Steps
Azaleas are well-known for being easy to cultivate and having a genuinely immense variety, including wild species and hybrids. This flowering shrub is also known for its gorgeous, brightly colored blooms and flowers that last long into the season. For these reasons and several more, azaleas are quite popular, and you may have seen them on display at the Augusta National golf course in Augusta, Georgia.
If planting azaleas in your yard is something you’d like to do, read on for step-by-step instructions, advice, and tips to do it right and get spectacular results.
Preparation Before Planting Azaleas
One essential aspect of planting azaleas is ensuring you have the correct soil. It should be moist, well-draining, and as organic as possible. Most importantly, the soil should be acidic. If the soil is alkaline or neutral, you should consider planting your azaleas in pots. The reason is that reducing soil pH is very difficult, costly, and time-consuming. A home pH meter or tester is an easy way to test your soil before planting.
Azaleas also do well in areas where the winters are short and the summers arelong. There are two main classes of azalea, native azaleas, which are more like small trees, and Asian azaleas, which are more like shrubs.
The 8 Steps on How to Plant Azaleas
1. Choose the Correct Spot to Plant Your Azaleas
Azaleas Thrive In Dappled Shade, Which Is Somewhere Between Full Sunshine And Heavy Shade. Under Moderate-Shade-Producing Trees Is Where The Azalea Society Of America Advises Planting Azaleas.
2. Dampen the Root Ball of Each Azalea Plant
Before planting your azaleas, take them gently out of their containers and dampen the entire root ball, but be careful not to wash all the soil away. Then set them on the ground while you dig your holes.
3. Dig a Hole That Fits the Root Bulb of Your Azalea Plant
Using a garden shovel, dig a hole deep and wide enough to fit the entire root ball of each azalea plant. You should make the hole twice the width of each root ball but no deeper than the ball.
4. Place one Azalea Plant into each Hole
Place each azalea into a hole, standing vertically. You want the root ball to stick out about 1-inch higher than the dirt. If it doesn’t, take it out, put some dirt back in the hole, and try again until it does,or you can dig the hole deeper if it’s too high. Also, azalea plants should be about 3 feet apart, so make sure your holes are spaced properly.
5. Gently Put the Dirt Back Into the Hole
Using the dirt you excavated earlier, fill the space around each azalea plant and press it down gently but firmly with your hands. When finished, pat the dirt down with your hands. Don’t stomp the dirt down with your feet because the roots need oxygen to grow.
6. Water Each Azalea Plant Thoroughly
Once each plant has been placed in its hole and filled with dirt, water your new azalea plants thoroughly. Do this again the next day, and then once a week after that. If your azaleas are in a more sunny area, you may need to water them twice a week. That way, they won’t dry out and wither. Also, when you water, only soak the roots of your azalea plants, not the leaves.
7. Put Mulch Around Your Azalea Plants
You must keep the soil around your azalea plants moist, prevent weeds from developing, and keep the soil at an even temperature. The best way to conserve moisture is to use mulch. Pine needles and pine bark work best because they’re acidic, and azaleas love acidic soil. You should keep a moderate layer of mulch around your azaleas all year, about 3 inches in depth. After putting down a new layer, water your azaleas thoroughly. One excellent benefit of mulching azaleas is that it provides nutrients as the mulch breaks down.
8. Feed Your Azaleas after a Month
About a month after planting your azaleas, you should feed them with a plant food specifically formulated for plants that love acidic soil. Azalea experts recommend feeding your azalea plants once a year if the soil is already acidic. Also, if you use pine needles or pine bark mulch, both will help the soil stay acidic.
What Is the Best Month to Plant Azaleas?
There are two best times of year to plant azaleas: late spring and early fall. Either one works well, but planting in spring allows your azaleas the entire summer to acclimate to their new surroundings.
Where Is the Best Place to Plant an Azalea Bush?
As we mentioned earlier, azalea plants do best in dappled sunshine. That means they get a little bit of sunshine and a little bit of shade. Two unfavorable situations can occur if you plant azaleas in the full sun. The first is they can suffer from a problem called “leaf scorch,” which means that their leaves get burned by the sun. The second is a bit worse as several leaf-sucking pests, including lace bugs and spider bites, can attack azaleas when planted in full sunshine.
How Deep Should Azaleas Be Planted?
As mentioned earlier, the root ball of your azalea plant should stick up about an inch above the ground when you are done placing it in its new hole. In other words, they do not need to be planted too deep.
What Is the Best Mulch for Azalea Plants?
As noted previously, azalea plants thrive in acidic soil. The best mulch to keep them healthy and provide a bit more acid for the soil are pine needles and chopped pine bark. Dried, chopped oak leaves also work very well as azalea mulch. All three are organic, help keep moisture in the soil around your azaleas, and regulate the soil temperature. Mulch also helps reduce weeds, which is essential for healthy, happy azalea plants.
How Much Space Do Azaleas Need?
Azalea plants should have about 3 feet between plants to have enough space to grow well, expand and thrive. You can certainly plant them further apart, but the look will be sparse when they mature. Planting them too close together can cause a problem by reducing the airflow the plants receive. Reduced airflow, in turn, slows down the time it takes for the azalea’s branches and leaves to dry, increasing the risk of fungal diseases that can harm or kill your azaleas.
What Time of Year Do You Root Azaleas?
If you want to take azalea cuttings and root them to produce more plants, the best time of year is from mid-spring to late summer.
The variety of azaleas, including the different types and colors of flowers, is astounding. More than 3,000 azalea varieties exist, which gives you plenty of choices when choosing this hearty, easy to care for plant. An azalea in spring has almost no equal when it comes to beauty, color, and its ability to brighten up a yard. Best of luck with your azalea planting!
Featured Image Credit: pixel2013, Pixabay