How to Grow Azaleas

Growing Tips and Varieties

George and Becky Lohmiller
Pink Azalea Flowers

One of many of the azalea bushes in my backyard now blooming.

Suzanne O'Rourke

Known as “The Royalty of the Garden,” azaleas have long been adored for their brightly colored flowers and outstanding form and foliage. Here are a few tips for growing azaleas in your garden!

How to Grow Azaleas

The best time to plant azaleas is in late spring or early fall. Evergreen azaleas do well in partial shade with some wind protection. Deciduous varieties flower more profusely in full sun. 

  • Provide well-drained, humus-rich soil that is slightly acidic (pH 4.5–6).
  • Mulch well. Shallow-rooted, azaleas tend to dry out quickly if not mulched. A mulch of oak leaf mold, pine needles, or aged oak, pine, or hemlock sawdust will keep soil acidic and moist. Read more in our Mulching Guide.
  • Fertilizer isn’t needed. The decaying mulch will provide all of the nutrients that azaleas need.
  • Seldom bothered by insects and diseases, azaleas require little care once established, except for watering during dry times.

Azalea bush

Varieties to Fit Your Landscape

With thousands of varieties, there are azaleas for just about every landscape situation:

  • Deciduous varieties are considered the hardiest, many growing as far north as Zone 4. Some, such as the bright-pink roseshell azalea (Rhododendron prinophyllum), are even hardy in Zone 3. With few exceptions, most evergreen azaleas are only reliable in Zone 6.
  • Low-growing ground cover azaleas such as ‘Joseph Hill’, a bright-red-flowering evergreen that grows only to about a foot.
  • Tall varieties include the white-blooming sweet azalea (R. arborescens), a deciduous plant that can reach 20 feet tall.
  • Weeping azaleas, such as ‘Pink Cascade’.

Azalea flowers

Late-Blooming Varieties

While most azaleas flower in spring, there are varieties that extend the season:

  • ‘Flame Creeper’, an orange-flowering ground cover azalea, and ‘Weston’s Lemon Drop’, with peachy-color buds that open to a soft yellow, both flower in late June or July.
  • The pink-flowering ‘Sweet September’ is an exceptionally late bloomer.

“The Royalty of the Garden” seems to be a fitting name for this beautiful and majestic plant, but we’ve got a hunch that once your garden is filled with the colors and fragrance of beautiful blooming azaleas, you’ll probably think that it’s you who’s getting the royal treatment.

See our Rhododendron and Azalea Plant Guide for more information on how to plant and care for these gorgeous shrubs.

Reader Comments

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Azaleas

I have azaleas in my back yard that blooms after the ones in spring,they are in full bloom now, and have two different colors of flowers on them. I can't remember where I bought them, would love to have some more.

No leaves, No flowers

I planted two azaleas last spring and they seemed to have been doing well. Well so far this year there has not been any leaves or flowers. Should I wait to see what happens or should I pull them up because most likely they're dead?

Azalea |Blooming

I purchased and planted some azaleas that had blooms. After planting the blooms withered and fell off but the greenery is doing fine. Will they bloom again this year or will I have to wait till next year?

Azalea Blooms

While they could bloom again this year, it’s more likely that they’ll spend the rest of this season settling into place and growing out their roots. By next year, they will be well established and should bloom without issue!

Replant?

I have been reading and it seems that I may have planted my azaleas slightly incorrectly. I didn't score the roots, although they weren't root bounds. I didn't break up that root ball at all. We also have some clay and I did mix in some sand where I though the clay was a bit more then they would like, but should dig them and add a larger amount of compost to the holes?
Thank you!

Black Mold/Fungus on Leaves

Two years ago, we bought three 5-gallon Azaleas (non-deciduous) and planted them in the from of our house using Raised Potting Soil containing lots of wood material and covered the surface with Gromulch. They did well. They were green and full of leaves all year long. In Fall last year, one bush started to get a black mold/fungus on its leaves. The leaves eventually fell off, leaving bear branches exposed. The condition spread to the other two bushes. Virtually all the leaves of the plants dropped off. However, I used Neem Oil to treat the plants and within a few months, new growth emerged. They now are back to their former glory. What mold/fungus infected them? What caused it? How can we avoid it?

Sooty Mold

It sounds like your azaleas had something called sooty mold, which tends to grow on the sugary residue (a.k.a. honeydew) left by aphids, scale insects, or whiteflies. The pests leave behind a sweet secretion as they feed on the azalea leaves, which is the perfect substance for sooty mold to grow on. The good news is that the sooty mold shouldn’t come back as long as you can keep the pest populations under control. Neem oil is effective on the mold-causing pests—follow the instructions on the packaging to know when to apply it again. It also wouldn’t hurt to do a manual sweep of the plants once a week or so, just to check for (and squish) any invaders. Mix 1 Tbsp dish soap (NOT dishwasher detergent) in 1 gallon of water and spray it on infected leaves; this will kill the pests. Wipe with a paper towel afterwards.

Encore Azaleas

These azaleas bloom Spring until into fall, however, they seem to needmore sun than other azaleas. What can you tell me about these?
Thank you

Unusual azalea bloom

My mother gave me an azalea that had an unusual bloom. It was white in the center and a fairly deep purple for the outer part of the bloom. I had to move before I could get any cuttings from it and haven't been able to find another one or anything close . Do you know what variety it could have been?

what's that plant?

Did you ask your mother where she got it? If it’s a nursery, the folks there may be able to tell you. We have no way of knowing, given the variations of purple different azaleas might display.

azalea

i bought 6' azalea bush from the flower shop in Yorktown, Va back 2016 it was pink. i planted in the back yard and it was growing so pretty. i took care of it. than i moved it to the front yard. than i wanted 2 of them so i cut it in half roots and all. planted them they were doing well now it looks like the leaves are turning red or purple. it don't look dead. i mulched it . is it going to turn green again and produces flowers. just let me know. thank you so much.

dividing an azalea

Azaleas, no matter what their size, are tree-like shrubs. You can not divide them as you might a plant like, say, a hosta. Just as you can not cut a tree trunk in half and expect each piece to grow (they will not), this doesn’t work. Tree-like shrubs are usually propagated by seeds, cuttings (using root powder on a piece of stem; note: not root), or layering (encouraging a stem that is attached to the mother plant to set roots by bending a lower branch to the ground and covering part of it with soil, leaving the last 6 to 12 inches above the soil; often this is held in place with a stake). It’s probably not going to make it.

Azaleas;

my comment is: When a tree shrub is planted and is doing well; best bet is to leave the Plant in the location; You might try putting the shrubs root together as one tree; then replanting this in either one of the places where the shrub did well; if not; buy another; wherever you plant the Azalea; do not relocate to another area; water well;

Azalea plant just received and appears to be dying.

I just received an azalea plant from our daughter and family for Christmas and it appears to be dying. I have only had it for 4 days. The leaves are falling and the blossoms are wilting. Is there anything I should be doing to help it survive. I have watered it just a little. Help!

dying azalea

Honestly, our best advice is to contact the source. Find out where your daughter bought it (casting no aspersions on your daughter here) and see if the vendor will replace it—even if it was sent mail order. (The circumstances of shipping—packing, handling, etc.—could have taken a toll, too.) Tell the vendor of its condition and your disappointment. They might replace or refund it (guessing here), but they should know that it didn’t live up to expectation.

It was probably forced to bloom, and like jet lag on the human psyche, forcing can throw a plant off its natural cycle.

It sounds dry; water is good. Set the pot in a inch of water so the roots soak up moisture from the bottom. Refill the plant holder until the soil is moist—but not saturated or soaked—throughout. Then put the plant in a cool, dark place. It’s impossible to know at this time how/if it will make it through the winter to bloom again in spring.

Bloom-A-Thon Azaleas

I've heard that Boom-A- Thon azaleas bloom a lot longer than most traditional azaleas,what can you tell me about them? I'm looking to buy some and plant them in my backyard,I live in zone 7,so they should do very well in my area,since I live in the deep south.

new azaleas

The variety of hybrid choices of some plants is astounding (think hydrangea), and your comment suggests the hybridizers are targeting azaleas now. We have no direct experience with this new one and would only be able to share comments from nurseries that you, too, would find by searching the plant name. Before you buy, talk to people at a nursery in person ideally or on the phone and tell them as much as you can about your setting and conditions and ask any questoins that come into your head re the plants particulars needs and possible challenges. Ask, too, if there is a refund/replacement policy … just in case.

Azaleas in Raised Bed Not Doing Well

I have a raised bed with azaleas under a huge tree that I put in about 10 years ago. For the first five years, the azaleas were doing great. My neighbors planted two small cedar trees under the big tree which have grown pretty tall. I tried to put a couple of other plants in the bed but can't dig through the hairlike roots that are throughout the bed. Are the hairlike roots from the cedar trees causing my azaleas to not bloom and lose leaves? Is it okay to till the soil between the azaleas to break up the hairlike roots from the cedars?

The root of the matter

This must be some big tree you’ve got! And that may be the root of the problem. Your azaleas probably did fine until the tree consumed the space under them and over them (blocking the light; azaleas need some sun). We can’t be certain whether the tree roots are from the cedar or from your (anonymous) tree; it’s probably a combination of all the trees. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like tilling will make much difference. Although we have no more specifics of the situation, we surmise that the azaleas can not be salvaged in the present location.

AZALEAS IN RAISED BED NOT DOING WELL - Thank You

Thank you for the prompt response. I have no idea what the big tree is - it was in place when we bought the land. The azaleas get shade in the morning and sun in the afternoon which is probably a problem too. I doubt that tilling the ground around the azaleas will help but I did it today anyway and was careful to stay away from the azaleas as far as possible. I got a huge pile of hairy roots out of the bed. Hopefully it will help for a little while anyway. If not, I'll watch the azaleas slowly die. I read in a gardening blog that digging a 12-18" trench and putting metal roofing in it will deter the roots. I might try that next year. Thanks so much again for your advice.

When will Pink Ruffle azaleas bloom in 2018?

Would love to have a backyard wedding in the spring. Any predictions on when the Pink Ruffle will bloom?

bloom time?

This plant is hardy in zones 7 to 9, and generally blooms in mid-spring, which could mean a little before mid or a little after mid season, too. Bear in mind that getting more specific about the bloom time involves local weather conditions as well as the plants’ growing conditions (aka microclimate) as well as a given zone.

azaleas in AZ

Just received an Azalea plant for Mother's Day. Now what? How often do I water, when should I transplant it, and can I plant it outside, if so, when would be best. PHX gets tooooo hot in the summer for plants.

Azalea in Arizona

To a certain extent, care of your azalea will depend on which planting zone you are in; the terrain in AZ varies a lot, so you should look at this map to see where are in it: http://www.plantmaps.com/interactive-arizona-usda-plant-zone-hardiness-m...

With that in mind, you can find some care advice here, based on zones: http://www.almanac.com/plant/rhododendrons

And then there is your local cooperative extension service; they may have some better advice, being right in your immediate area. Find your state here http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services and click on your state.

We found a page from the AZ cooperative extension that has some good information: https://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/indoor/containers.html but it would be best if you connect directly with a local expert (at the coop).

Pink double ruffle azaleas

Ready to replant Pink Double Ruffle Azaleas. Where can I purchase?

Replanting a Japanese azalea from a pot to my garden

Hi i have a Japanese azalea which i have had for two years now, its currently in a pot but seems alot bigger this year. Its currently in flower & i was wondering if i can move it & replant it in my garden now or should i wait till its finished flowering? Thanks

transplanting azaleas

It is best to transplant azaleas in early fall when the weather is relatively cool. If you really want to transplant in warm weather, choose an overcast day, or a day or so after it has rained (which cools the soil), or earlier or later in the day. The main challenge with transplanting azaleas is to get all of the roots so very wide (versus deep) to get every root to reduce the stress on the plant.

Azaleas

Azaleas are beautiful

potted azalea

Mom received an Azalea plant for a gift and I potted it because I'm in Colorado Springs and we have frost already. (October) Came in 6" pot and transferred to 10" for the winter. It's losing leaves (still green), is that okay? What's best for this plant until next Spring when I can plant it? Its a pink one...not sure which variation. Has been in pot 2 weeks max.

Overwintering Potted Azaleas

Hi Jesse,

Azaleas need to go dormant in winter, which means they should be outside rather than kept inside as a potted plant. If yours is inside, give it a good watering, then add a thick layer of mulch to the pot and find a protected spot outside for it, perhaps on a table or chair, tucked up against the house or a shed. Given its young age, you might also consider wrapping the pot and plant loosely in burlap for added wind and cold protection. As for the dropping leaves–it could be a deciduous variety.

 

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