How to Grow Azaleas

Growing Tips and Varieties

By George and Becky Lohmiller
April 17, 2018
Pink Azalea Flowers

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

Suzanne O'Rourke

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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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Hi Donald, Don't prune the

Hi Donald,
Don't prune the plants and you can leave the brown leaves on. Hopefully you'll be able to see new growth soon. If the azaleas were covered with snow during the coldest periods they should be OK. You can add mulch around the plants. If you use pine needles they will make the soil more acidic. Add a bit of compost or aged manure around the plants when they start growing.

I bought a beautifull azalea

I bought a beautifull azalea on a big pot ..I asked as I want to plant it in a sunny area ..temperature would reach 40 degree in the summer with direct sunlight ..can I do that ?

You should plant your azalea

You should plant your azalea in a spot with some shade. A combination of shade and sunlight is just right for azaleas. If you plant in full sun, it won't grow as well.

I live 50 miles north of

I live 50 miles north of Sacramento, CA. (9 growing zone) I purchased a Formosa Azalea. I would like to plant it on the east side of my home which would be exposed to morning sun only. Would you advise that I plant it where it would get less sun? It is about 2 ft high by 2 ft wide and beautiful green plant. I plan to get a kit to test the ph of my soil and amend it if necessary to create an acidic soil. Do you have any suggestions that I need to consider?

We usually advise that you

The Editors's picture

We usually advise that you plant azalea on the east or north side of a house so that's a good call. Also, you're on the right track by providing acidic, organically enriched soil. Also, the soil needs to drain well so it doesn't get to soggy but also not too dry. Avoid watering the leaves; only water at the base.
Otherwise, take care that you do not plant the azaleas too deeply; the top of the root ball should be slightly above soil level. Avoid cultivating right around the plant as it has shallow roots that should not be disturbed.

Hi, I'm writing all the way

Hi, I'm writing all the way from Trinidad and Tobago and wanted to know if azaleas can be grown here and which variety would work best in the Caribbean sun? Also can they be grown from seeds?
Thank you

Hi, I own an indoor azalea

I own an indoor azalea and I water it every week. About 2 months ago, I realised that all the blooms were dying and then so were the buds. Soon afterwards, the leaves too started to curl up and there was no new foliage. Now only the stems remain. What did I do wrong? It is kept near the window and I changed the pot when I noticed that the flowers were dying. Any tips?

Indoor azaleas can be very

The Editors's picture

Indoor azaleas can be very tricky. First, avoid repotting until spring when all signs of flowers are gone.
One common reason why azaleas do not survive indoors is because they need cool to cold temperatures and most homes are too warm. They also like moist air and most homes are too dry.
To keep it cool, add compost and keep it moist with soft water; their leaves do shrivel if they are underwatered or dry.
Finally, make sure your plants are in bright light but not direct sun or too much sun.
If you can keep well watered, in bright light, and cool, the plant will be happy, however, we've found most homes simply aren't cool enough.

I have just prepared a new

I have just prepared a new flower bed for planting and am considering azaleas and camilias. The bed faces due north and is shaded much of the day by my 2 story house. I seem to have some afternoon sun - but it is a direct hit in some areas and there is total shade in others. I live in zone 7b. Would these plants do well in this bed with this type of exposure?

Azaleas adapt to different

The Editors's picture

Azaleas adapt to different conditions and do well in semi-shade. Camellias bloom and grow better in partial shade, with shelter from hot afternoon sun. Young plants prefer shade.

Ok ive read alot of good

Ok ive read alot of good stuff flowers came in spring now the leaves are losing the greenish color looking like they have dried up..its filtered sun on east side..I used some miracle did I kill it???

My small, store bought, pink

My small, store bought, pink Azalea is looking like it is dying; the leaves are falling off as are the blooms, which I have removed. I live in Victoria, BC, and our balcony faces east. Do you have any suggestions? I do not think I am over watering it, and I have tried fertilizing it with a single packet fertilizer. I have it indoors now, and would like to know what I should do before it is too late for it.
Thank you for your time.

Azaleas like it slightly

Azaleas like it slightly humid and cool. This can be a challenging combination in some areas.
Never let the soil dry out or it's hard to rehydrate. To bring up the humidity, you can place the plant in a dish of water and soak it for a few hours once a week.
Keep it cool (60 to 70 degrees room temperature) especially at night. It needs to be in a cool, indirect sunny area. Neve let it dry out. Keep away from drafts or heating vents.
Only fertilize lightly every month with a fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus.

The leaves on my azaleas have

The leaves on my azaleas have a light green look. What do I use for black spot..?



Hi, Richard, The first thing

Hi, Richard,
The first thing we would suggest is that you check your soil pH. Azaleas like soil on the acidic side. And mulch, mulch, mulch. See guidance above the QAs on this page.
Hope this helps!

I have five azaelas that are

I have five azaelas that are supposed to bloom spring through fall. I planted them in a circle two feet from the base of a small tree. They only get some to none dappled light throughout the day. They look good but they are no longer blooming. I fed them with fertilizer for blooms and added Epsom salts. No blooms! They have only been planted three weeks. Will the blooms come back or do I need to move them so they can get more sun? They are on the east side of my house, but there are many tall oak trees that bring mostly shade to the area.

Hi, Susan, Spring-to-fall

Hi, Susan,
Spring-to-fall bloom seldom means continuous bloom, at least regarding azaleas; it means repeat bloom. After blooming in spring, the plants rest, produce new buds, and put on another show.

Hello, i planted my little

Hello, i planted my little girard's rose azalea about 3 feet away from my home foundation and its facing east/south but the south way has a HUGE tree from the next door yard. im in zone 5 and i think i have clay ish type soil. i did not do anything to the soil before planting but add some organic compost, and a half tea spon of special fertilzer for azaleas and rohdies, but put it where the roots dont touch it. well its bee about 2 weeks and all the pretty pink flowers are all on the ground and have fallen off the plant. At this point the leaves seem to still look green and healthy. i did not add mulch around it because with the huge tree next door i was worried it might be in too much shade and the ground too wet...any thoughts or ideas would be great!! can i upload pictures here?? Wasnt sure how that works thanks

The Girard's Rose azalea

The Girard's Rose azalea usually blooms April/May. The dropping of flowers is normal. Azaleas like acidic well-draining soil. Add used coffee grounds to the soil around the bush to make the soil more acidic and we suggest that you add some mulch before the weather gets hot.

I bought Azalea Mary Poppins

I bought Azalea Mary Poppins about 4 years ago as a very small plant. It is in a patio pot and has been growing well. It looks extremely healthy - masses of leaves but no flowers. I have another azalea right next to it in the same conditions - and that one is overloaded with blooms. At first I thought it was because I had overfertilised it - so have not added any fertiliser for the last 3 years. I do make sure they are both well watered. Do you have any idea why I am not getting flowers?

Your azalea needs acidic

Your azalea needs acidic well-drained soil (it does not like “wet feet”) and part shade. Add sulfur or iron sulfate to the soil if needed to lower the pH.

I have 4 azaleas plants and

I have 4 azaleas plants and one it flowered the first year n now only branches coming out n not flowering. What can i do to bring it back? rest 3 plants doing ok.

I have a small red azalea

I have a small red azalea that I planted last year. It was fine last year but this year it looks like something is eating it. Some of the branches are brown with dry brown unopened blooms. Other branches/blooms look normal except the blooms have holes in them. We have very acidic soil but it is clay.

Dry buds suggests botrytis.

Dry buds suggests botrytis. Are you watering from overhead? Be sure to water at the base. Or, it could be an insect issue called thrips. They can be controlled by spraying the developing buds with Sevin and again 10 days later. We suggest you bring a sample to your cooperative extension or plant nursery for a diagnosis.

I have a azalea I want

I have a azalea I want planted in the north east section of the garden under a deador cedar, but it is blooming now,
would that cause a problem? Im not living in the states, I live in British Columbia

You can transplant azaleas in

You can transplant azaleas in early fall when the weather is relatively cool. If you must 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.

I have a very full potted

I have a very full potted pink Azalea plant it had pink flowers on it but now is not blooming. I live in Chicagoland and was wondering if I should bring it in for th winter. Please advise.

A potted azalea, especially a

The Editors's picture

A potted azalea, especially a florist pot, probably won't survive freezing temperatures. You can try putting the pots in a cool place such as a cellar for the winter. Check plants throughout the winter and water thoroughly whenever the soil is dry. Do not fertilize. You do not want this type of plant indoors. The air is too warm and the humidity too low. Bring them back outside as freezing temperatures go away.

my husband and i own a

my husband and i own a landscaping company. in early july we dug nandinas and camillias out of 2 beds at the end of a clients sloping driveway. we put 3 3gal high quality azaleas from a local nursery in each bed. it rained every day for almost a month. a week after the rain stopped the 3 in the right bed are brown. any ideas as to what happened?