Azaleas, part of the rhododendron family, are one of the most popular of all garden flowers.
They come in a wide variety of different colours and sizes. They bloom in both winter and spring and look fantastic planted en masse in a garden bed.
Sunlight and Placement
Azaleas are surface rooting plants. This means that they don’t need deep soil to thrive so 30 -40cm is enough. They like semi-shade. Ideally, place them in the dappled shade underneath a tree. While they will grow in most positions, they prefer morning sun, with protection from the hot afternoon sun. Azaleas will not last in cement pots or near brickwork. This is due to the lime leaching into the soil and making it alkaline. Make sure to use a glazed pot if space in your garden is limited.
To properly care for your Azaleas you should prune after flowering to help keep them under control and looking great. Otherwise they may start to grow long stems and develop damaged branches.
As Azaleas are shallow-rooted, they need to be watered every 2-3 days to avoid drying out. Make sure to water at the roots, and not the petals. Wetting these can cause the plant to develop a fungal disease resulting in the loss of the blooms!
Soil and Drainage
Although most plants are happiest in a neutral pH zone (6-7), Azaleas like mildly acidic soil (5.5). So, before planting, feed soil with compost and aged manure to improve moisture and retention. Then once planted, it is essential to use lots of compost to help absorb excess water from the roots and keep the plants moist but not saturated. As the weather gets warmer, it is important to use mulch on the surface and around the plants.
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