Azaleas – A Landscape Favorite
Azaleas are true garden favorite and are popular in all types of landscape designs. To keep them blooming prolifically and as beautiful as they can be, follow a few directions for their care.
Azaleas like a well-drained location, as they will not thrive in an area that stays overly wet. They prefer afternoon shade. Too much sun can harm their leaves and fade the flowers, depleting their beauty. For their best growth, it is important to shelter azaleas from drying winds. The best locations in the landscape will be along the north, northeast or east side of a building, or in the filtered shade under tall trees.
Azaleas may be planted any time of the year, even when in full bloom. Before planting, loosen the matted roots with a hand cultivator so they can spread and establish more easily.
To give azaleas proper drainage, they should be planted higher, with half the root ball above the existing ground level, in a hole twice as wide as the root ball. Once the plant is set in the planting hole, fill in around it with soil, packing firmly to eliminate air pockets. Mound soil up to top of root ball. Water shrubs thoroughly. You can use a diluted plant starter fertilizer to encourage root growth and help them establish more quickly. Mulch 2-3 inches deep over the planting hole, with mulch pulled away from plant stem to avoid insect infestations and rotting.
Generally, spring and summer plantings should be watered 2-3 times per week until fall the year they are planted, then once a week until light frosts occur. You can check the soil moisture level before watering. It should be lightly moist several inches down, but if it is drying out more frequent watering may be needed. Give the plant a thorough watering before winter. In following years, be sensitive, if it is a very dry time, water your azalea. Plants will need more water in hot summers and while in flower to keep their growth and form lush.
The Need for Mulch
Mulching around azaleas is always a good idea, and can help them thrive. A 2-4" layer of mulch should be maintained at all times over the root area of the plant, but pulled away from the stems. This keeps the soil cool and moist, helps control weeds and protects roots in winter.
Azaleas rarely need to be pruned. When pruning is required it should be done immediately after blooming, since if you wait to prune until summer you may cut off next year’s blooms and miss an entire flowering season. Azaleas may be sheared, as they will send out new shoots anywhere on a branch, or you may choose hand-pruning to create a neater form.
With a bit of considerate care, azaleas can be a showstopper in your landscape. Stop by today to pick out the perfect Azalea for your landscape.