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

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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Can we plant the trim

Can we plant the trim branches of azelea but how and when we have to do that

Hey we just planted 3 azaleas

Hey we just planted 3 azaleas in the front yard. It gets full sun. They did really good at first. We planted them the 1st of April and it is now June. They look like they are starting to die. The leafs are brown and some place it is just the branch. There are still some places that have green leafs. Im not sure if there is anything I can do to help bring them back?

Azaleas prefer filtered

The Editors's picture

Azaleas prefer filtered sunlight. Ideally, they get dappled sun in the summer with little or no early morning sun in the winter.  They need sun but not intense, afternoon sun. Perhaps the most important factor is soil preparation. Did you do a soil test before planting? Soil needs have a pH of 4.5 to 6.0--and be moist, well-drained, and well-aerated. Many people find that they need to add amendments that make the soil more acidic. Soil tests are often available for free or a small charge from your local cooperative extension services. The test will tell you what you need to adjust. Fifty percent of the planting medium should be organic material. Finally, azaleas prefer to be set in a place protected from wind. They thrive on the north side of a building or the east side.

My mother has 2 azalea bushes

My mother has 2 azalea bushes she says the flower buds never open but turn into this hard white knot (she says it looks like cottage cheese). She has been fertilizing them. I can't seem to find anything that resembles this problem. Do you have any idea what she is dealing with?

Hi, Rosanne: It sounds like

The Editors's picture

Hi, Rosanne: It sounds like your mother has some sort of fungal infection, perhaps gall. Well, not your mother, of course, but her azaleas. Hand-remove every affected parts (and soil) and dispose of carefully, then get back to basics. Stop the fertilizing, and make sure there is adequate light, water, and air circulation. Simultaneously, consult with your local nursery or extension service about a good organic fungicide to use. Good luck!

i planted 5 azaleas around a

i planted 5 azaleas around a maple tree in my front yard. it is a south facing bed that gets 3 hours of morning sun and 2 very late afternoon sun the hottest part of the day it is completely shaded. i live in zone 7b in Alabama we have heavy clay soil so i amended with cow and mushroom compost manure. i planted gumpo, George tabor, and azalea snow. the gumpos are doing well but the george tabor are getting brown spots on the leaves. Are they getting too much sun? i have a neighbor who has tons of azaleas that are in sun for most of the day and doing well. what am i doing wrong?

You may have something called

The Editors's picture

You may have something called leaf spot that is caused by a fungal infection. If your azalea is healthy it should withstand the infection. You can cut out the most infected leaves and throw them in the trash (do not compost). Also water the azaleas from the soil level, don't use a sprinkler.

How do I know if my azaleas

How do I know if my azaleas survived the winter? What should I look for in terms of new growth? Will it grow leaves from the wood or from the base?

Last late spring I planted 2

Last late spring I planted 2 small deciduous azaleas at my cottage in Zone 4. It is now the following year/late April, the snow has melted and I see that the leaves are brown/look dead. Do I remove the leaves? Prune? Or just leave them to their own devices and hope that the new leaves will replace the old? Is it possible they have died due to the cold temperatures despite being approved for my zone? Also, the soil in the region is very acidic due to the number of evergreens in the area. Should I still fertilize or simply add additional pine needles as mulch to lower the PH? Thanks, D

Hi Donald, Don't prune the

The Editors's picture

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

The Editors's picture

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

The Editors's picture

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

The Editors's picture

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

The Editors's picture

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 Editors's picture

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?