Growing Azaleas

February 13, 2006

Spring and fall are the best times to purchase and plant azalea and rhododendron clumps.

Botanical Name: Rhododendrons
Life Cycle: perennial landscaping shrub
Planting Time: spring or fall
Height: 1' to 12' or more
Exposure: partial shade
Soil: rich, moist, well-drained soil with an acidic pH
Hardiness: zones 5 to 8
Bloom Time: early spring to summer depending on zone
Flower: white, pink, lavender, violet-blue, yellow, orange and red
Foliage: green
Propagation: cuttings
Suggested Use: landscaping shrubs
Growing Hints: Spring and fall are the best times to purchase and plant azalea and rhododendron clumps. If you buy whole balled or burlap wrapped plants, late summer is the best time for planting. You can grow both of these plants from 4 " cuttings taken in late spring and early summer. Dip cuttings in a rooting hormone, insert them into a moist propagating mix and cover them with plastic, making a mini greenhouse supported with bent wire. Keep cuttings moist and out of direct sun until they root (weeks or months). Remove plastic, harden them off and transplant them. The best sites for azaleas and rhododendrons are sites with loose, hummus-rich soil that is evenly moist and has a pH of 4.5 to 6.5. Pruning should be done immediately after flowering. Do not plant near walnut trees.
Interesting Facts: Rhododendrons have 10 or more stamens, bell-shaped flowers, and leaves that are usually evergreen, while azaleas have 5 stamens, funnel-shaped flowers, and deciduous leaves. Gardeners see these as two different plants, but botanists lump them into one genus (group).

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Azaleas are beautiful and versatile in the landscape. They come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes, and have a wide enough hardiness range that even gardeners in the coldest of zones can enjoy growing them.

Healthy Azaleas

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My azalea bushes are 20 years old. Several years ago, I pruned them back severely, because they were getting very leggy and sparse. This spring they did not bloom for the first time in years. I found that they enjoyed an acid soil.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

January 25, 2007


I recently replanted azaleas that are approximately 2 years old. Should I leave the leaves that have collected around them for extra insulation or remove them all and just mulch them real good?

Hardiness Zone: 5b

MinDee from Missouri



I wouldn't worry about cleaning them up unless you have had problems in the past with insects or fungal diseases. If this is the case, the fallen leaves will make a nice place for insects and disease spores to spend the winter so you're better off disposing of them (don't compost). If insects and disease are not a factor, I see no harm in leaving them. After all, the leaves can also make an attractive place for beneficial insects to overwinter. The way I look at it, when in doubt, always follow nature's example. Without human intervention, plants naturally rely on the insulating properties of their own leaves to protect them from the elements and provide nutrients again in the spring. Because most of the plants in our gardens are forced to adapt to "artificial" growing conditions, we've got to help them compensate. That said, you will probably want to add some mulch to the leaves anyway, unless you think you have enough leaves to provide adequate winter protection.



By rosa (Guest Post)
November 10, 20060 found this helpful

I would remove the old leaves ,just in case there is a bit of disease maybe, and mulch good. You do shread all of your leaves don't you ? :-) best mulch in the world. And also I would give a good fall feeding,either with the stakes for evergreens , or a good multipurpose feed, or you can dig in some of your great leaf mulch first before you mulch them. Then in spring when you uncover them, just dig the mulch back in the soil around the plants. You will be amazed at how they will love you for this. rose

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By Elaine, Illinois (Guest Post)
November 10, 20060 found this helpful


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November 10, 20060 found this helpful

Azalea bushes love acidic soils--to add acidity, rake
away the leaves that have fallen around the azaleas, and mulch around them with some pine
needles. They will LOVE you for it!!!!

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Answer this Question

June 16, 2018

There are white puff balls growing on the end of my azalea leaves. What are they?


June 17, 20180 found this helpful

Mealybugs. Pick off as much as possible and apply insecticide

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June 17, 20180 found this helpful

I agree with Judy - this looks like mealybugs and they are dangerous to your azaleas so you need to take care of this problem ASAP.

  • It is good if you can cut them off but if you have too many bushes then you will need to take other measures. Actually, even if you cut them off, you should still treat bushes with insecticidal soap.
  • Be very sure to properly dispose of anything you trim from your bushes so they cannot still do damage.
  • The only way that I know to do away with mealybugs is to use an insecticidal soap and even then you have to be careful as too much soap can harm your plants but you have to "hit" every mealybug to kill it. That is why it is good to cut and remove as many as possible.
  • To make a soap spray for controlling mealybugs on plants, mix 2 teaspoons of mild liquid dish detergent in 1 quart of water. Be sure to use soft or distilled water as this will not work well with tap water (usually hard water).
  • It may be beneficial to check/read a couple of sites to gain more information about caring for your azaleas.
  • Here is an additional site but it is pretty lengthy but has excellent pictures.
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June 17, 20180 found this helpful

It is the mealies or its kissing cousin bark scales--families...ugh :)

Either way, the treatments are the same, as I learned from having one affected at my childhood home. The first line is to trim the diseased parts, bag up the remains and put in the trash (don't toss over the hill or into the woods as it will just spread the problem to other plants). Most times, that will do it. Watch the plant carefully for further infestations.

If the infestations persist, you can try a mix of a regular dish soap and hot water in a microwave safe plastic bottle (so it doesn't melt) and spray directly on to the poofs. It is a 4 to 1 mix (so four teaspoons for each quart of hot water). Spray at night and let it sit. Check back in the morning and reapply the next night for the next few days until they go bye bye. Keep kids and pets away from it.

If it STILL persists (these can be greedy little pests) there are a variety of chemical products you can buy (be sure to follow the instructions carefully and again, keep small children and pets away....even creating a little barricade to keep strays and outside critters away).

I hope you caught it in time! The jury is still out if we caught it in time to save the one at my childhood home. I hope so!!

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I received an azalea rhododendron hybrid plant for Mother's Day and don't know what to do with it. Is it an outdoor plant or indoor? I live in southern Ohio. I also need to know how large it will grow. Or is it considered a bush?

By Peggy C


May 20, 20130 found this helpful

Hello !

Do you believe it ? The Ohio State University is providing you with a full page of information. Titled of the page is " Growing Rhododendrons and Azaleas in Ohio " and it is here :
What more do you need ? Maybe just this about plants in full bloom sold for Mother's day or any other big date. To force full bloom at a given time plants are usually either "heated" or kept in darkness and suddenly exposed to full light 24 hours a day or overdosed with fertilisers. Your Azalea may also be potted with coconut fibers only. This type of soil can provide nutriments for the plants for a few weeks only. Once you have found its future place in your garden let the plant stay in water at room temperature until it is completely soaked take the plant out of the water, throw the water away and repeat the process. This way you will get rid of the extra fertilizer. Avoid fertilizing during the first year. If your Azalea is in a suited place in your garden with the proper soil and receives the right amount of water it will not need fertilizer.

Good luck !


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August 17, 2011

It's summertime and hot here in Virginia. Why are my azaleas blooming in the summer?

By Barbara from Yorktown, VA


August 24, 20110 found this helpful

Do you have ever blooming azaleas? I do and mine are blooming right now too. They are supposed to be blooming again about this time. We planted them about 2-3 years ago. I live in Philadelphia, PA.

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When is the best time to prune rhododendrons and azaleas?

By Jess from Hillsboro, OR


May 23, 20110 found this helpful

Right after the last bloom begins to look 'ugly'. Wait too long, and you take the risk of new bloom sets being pruned off. Next years blooms take shape soon after the last bloom of the current year fades, so pruning at the wrong time will cut off all those buds for next year and all you'll have is a green shrub in your garden.

When you do your pruning, make sure to disinfect your shears between plants to avoid transferring any fungi or pests from plant to plant (sometimes very hard to see until damage-infestation is killing your plant).

Also, open the interior of the bush a bit, and remove all crossed/rubbing branches/stems to keep fungi and aphids from finding an attractive home.

These plants are some of the most beautiful garden plantings, especially when planted in masses, but they do need to be pruned at the right time. :)

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I bought a potted azalea in coconut fiber a month ago and they started to wilt already (I made the mistake of putting it out in the sun for a 2 days). I have no idea about plants and I'd like to know what to do now that the flowers are starting to wilt. I read somewhere that I should transfer it to a garden soil (out of the pot). Are there any fertilizers that should be given to the plant? When will it start to bloom flowers again? Thank you.

By Raina Supercalifragilistic G.

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May 19, 2012

I have been trying to grow azaleas and rhododendrons in my gardens, but after a short time, they keep dying. Could you give me some ideas what I might be doing wrong? I understand they are best grown in partial shade, prefer good drainage, moist soil, and acid soil. I am sure I have all of these conditions, but not sure of the ph of the soil. What is the best way for the home gardener to check this himself? If the ph is too high, how can I best bring it down to the correct level.

By Jeff

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Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photos. Click at right to share your own photo in this page.

My azalea is in full bloom now, thought I would share the gorgeous color with everyone. Hope you vote thumbs up if you like them.

Azaleas in garden.

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When we moved into our house last fall, we had no idea that the huge overgrown bushes along the driveway, were this beautiful in the spring. I'm so glad we decided to wait to trim them, until we saw them for a full season.

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