Azalea Bushes: Caring For Flowering Azalea (including Pruning and Growing in Pots) (2022)

Azalea bushes are spectacular flowering shrubs with eye-catching blooms in a wide range of colors and shapes. Brightly colored azalea flowers are funnel-shaped and come in shades of pink, red, orange, white, yellow, and purple. Flowering azalea bushes are easy to grow in a garden landscape and add plenty of color as they bloom from late winter until early fall.

Azalea bushes have a range of uses in a garden landscape. Their shrub-like growth and rounded shape are ideal for planting along borders, as background plantings, ground cover, or foundation plantings. With the proper pruning, you can train the shrub to grow as a small azalea tree. Azalea bushes grow well in containers on a patio, deck, or a large room with plenty of natural light.

This article is a comprehensive guide to growing azalea bushes in your front or backyard. In addition to handy tips, you will get helpful information on the best types of azalea flowers for your garden.

How to Care for Flowering Azalea Bushes

To grow azalea shrubs in your yard, plant the bushes in full sun or partial shade in well-drained soil. Water the flowering bushes weekly and add a layer of mulch to ensure adequate soil moisture. Add organic compost in spring to provide nutrients. Prune azaleas just after blooming in spring.

About Azalea Bushes

Azalea Bushes: Caring For Flowering Azalea (including Pruning and Growing in Pots) (1)

Azalea bushes include many varieties with various sizes and flower colors

Azaleas are a group of showy flowering shrubs in the genus Rhododendron. There are over 10,000 azalea cultivars that come in all different shapes and colors. Native azaleas from North America are from the Rhododendron subsection Pentanthera. Some types of azaleas are winter hardy, and others need semi-tropical climates to thrive.

There is such a wide variety of azaleas that there is a type for almost every landscape. Most azaleas thrive in well-drained, acidic soil and are slow-growing shrubs. Azaleas can be dwarf shrubs, growing 1 to 3 ft. (0.3 – 1 m) tall. Other large azalea bushes can grow between 8 and 15 ft. (2.4 – 4.5 m) tall.

Many cities worldwide, including many in the US, have azalea festivals in spring to celebrate the beauty of azalea flowers.

To find suitable varieties of landscaping azaleas for your area, it’s essential to check the hardiness zone. For example, some cold-hardy perennial azaleas thrive in USDA zones 3 or 4 up to zone 8. On the other hand, some azaleas are from the tropics of Southeast Asia and thrive in Florida, Texas, and South Carolina.

Are Azalea Bushes Evergreen or Deciduous?

Azalea bushes can be evergreen or deciduous shrubs. Typically, native North American varieties are deciduous azaleas. These hardy shrubs lose leaves in the winter and come back in the spring. Asian varieties are usually evergreen azaleas that are smaller than deciduous ones, and keep their leafy foliage throughout the year.

Azalea vs. Rhododendron — The Difference Between Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Azaleas are often confused with rhododendron bushes because they look similar. While azaleas are in the genus Rhododendron, they are small to medium-sized shrubs with tubular or funnel-shaped flowers. On the other hand, rhododendron flowers are larger, bell-shaped blooms, and the leaves are thicker and leathery.

One subtle difference between azalea blooms and rhododendron flowers is that trumpet-shaped flowers on azalea bushes have five anthers, not ten.

(Video) AZALEA PLANT CARE for FLOWERING AZALEAS GROWING IN POTS 🌱(Garden Center TV)

What is an Azalea Tree?

An azalea tree is a standard azalea shrub trained to grow as a tree. All azaleas have shrub-like growth with multiple spreading stems. Growing an azalea tree requires proper pruning. However, with the correct technique, you can grow a single-stemmed azalea tree with a rounded crown, beautiful flowers, and compact foliage.

To grow an azalea tree, trim all the stems emerging from the ground, leaving between one and three of the healthiest ones. Next, remove the horizontal branches growing within 4 ft. (1.2 m) of the soil surface. Finally, to maintain your azalea tree, remove emerging shoots every spring.

Azalea Flowers

Azalea Bushes: Caring For Flowering Azalea (including Pruning and Growing in Pots) (2)

Azalea flowers can be single, semi-double or double blooms

Flowers growing on azalea bushes are identified as trumpet-shaped fragrant flowers with five petals joined at the base. Azalea blooms usually have five anthers emerging from the center. Azalea flowers come in many forms, from single flowers to showy semi-double or double flowers with flat, ruffled, frilly, or twisted petals.

Azalea flowers can range in size from 0.25” (6 mm) across to 5” (12 cm). The color patterns on showy azalea flowers can be a single color or have stripes, blotches, polka dots, or bright-colored petals with contrasting margins.

Typically, azaleas bloom in spring. Depending on the species, azalea shrubs may already produce flowers as early as February. However, most azalea shrubs bloom around April or May. The spectacular azalea spring flowers last for around three weeks. Some azalea varieties bloom again in summer and persist until the fall.

Types of Azaleas

Whatever your climate or garden landscape, there is a variety of azalea that will suit your yard. Here are examples of some azaleas:

  • Deciduous azalea shrubs—The hardiest azalea plants will withstand freezing temperatures, have stunning showy flowers, and grow 4 to 5 ft. (1.2 – 1.5 m) tall.
  • Evergreen azalea bushes—Only reliable in zone 6 and above, evergreen azaleas are suitable for southern gardens and tend to be smaller than the deciduous varieties.
  • Low-growing azaleas for ground cover—Some azaleas have a short height of around 12” (30 cm) and a wide spread, suitable for ground cover, foundation plantings, or colorful borders.
  • Tall azaleas—The tallest azaleas can grow around 15 ft. (4.5 m) tall and can fill a large space with spectacular colors.
  • Late-blooming azaleas—To extend the blooming season of azaleas, grow flowering azaleas that produce flowers in mid- to late-summer.
  • Weeping azaleas—The popular ‘Pink Cascade’ is a weeping azalea with evergreen foliage, drooping cascading branches, and stunning pink flowers.

Related reading: Stunning types of azaleas.

When to Plant Azalea

The best time to plant azaleas outdoors is in the fall. Planting flowering shrubs before the dormant season gives the roots time to establish themselves. The shrubby plants will be ready to start blooming the following spring. Alternatively, you can plant azaleas in spring if you care well for them during summer.

Where to Plant Azalea Bushes

Flowering azalea shrubs grow best in moist, acidic soil, full sun to partial shade, and some protection from the wind. Evergreen azalea plants perform best in partial shade. However, hardy deciduous azalea plants bloom profusely in full sun.

When choosing the ideal location to plant an azalea bush, choosing the right soil type is crucial. Azaleas thrive in acidic soil that drains well yet holds enough moisture. If you have alkaline soil, you should amend it with peat moss, acidifying nitrogen, leaf mold, or plenty of organic compost or mulch.

In clay soils, you will also need to work in plenty of organic matter to improve its structure and nutrient content.

(Video) Azalea Care in Pots ( My Most watched Video) Azalea tips : potting mix : fertilizing : pruning care

It is also a good idea to avoid planting an azalea plant where there is poor drainage. Waterlogged soil leads to root rot, poor blooming, and your once stunning bush will eventually die. To avoid soggy soil, you could mix in loamy topsoil or sandy soil or grow the azalea in a raised bed.

Another consideration when deciding on where to plant an azalea bush is sunlight. Avoid planting the sun-loving plant in heavy shade. In hot, sunny climates, azaleas or rhododendrons can benefit from afternoon shade. But they require around six hours of sunlight daily to produce plenty of blooms.

How to Plant Azalea Outdoors

After choosing the ideal location to plant an azalea, you should prepare the ground for planting. Dig a hole that is larger than the shrub’s container or root-ball but not deeper. Combine compost in the extracted soil to create an acidic environment for planting in the ground.

Plant the azalea so that the root ball is 2” (5 cm) higher than the soil surface. Then, backfill the hole with the soil and compost mix. When filling in the hole, press down to remove all air pockets. Lastly, thoroughly water the newly-planted azalea to hydrate the roots.

How far apart to plant azalea shrubs outdoors? The answer about spacing azaleas depends on your landscape idea. For example, to plant azaleas as a flowering hedgerow, plant the shrubs 3 feet (1 m) apart. On the other hand, if you want a more open landscape, space azaleas between 3 and 5 feet (1 – 1.5 m) apart. However, remember that azaleas will grow as wide as they are tall.

How to Care for Outdoor Azaleas

Watering is a critical care aspect when growing azalea bushes in your garden. Azaleas are shallow-rooted plants and need regular watering to keep the soil moist. You may need to water azaleas once or twice a week, depending on the climate. However, it’s vital to avoid watering so much that the soil becomes waterlogged.

Because azaleas have a shallow root system, keeping the ground moist can be an issue. Therefore, an important way to care for an azalea outdoors is to add a layer of mulch.

Adding a 3” to 4” (7.5 – 10 cm) layer of organic mulch can help lock in moisture. This will also ensure adequate soil temperature in cold weather. Appropriate types of azalea mulch include shredded leaves, straw, pine needles, and pine bark.

How To Plant Azalea in Pots

Azalea Bushes: Caring For Flowering Azalea (including Pruning and Growing in Pots) (3)

Potted azalea shrubs

Azalea bushes grow well in pots and containers, making them ideal for container gardens, patios, entrance-ways, or deck areas. To grow azaleas in containers, you should plant them in a loose soil mix specifically for acid-loving plants. You can also combine equal parts of potting soil and pine bark.

Grow the potted azalea at the same height as the nursery pot, leaving about 2” (5 cm) free between the soil surface and pot rim.

To water a potted azalea shrub, pour water until it drains from the pot’s drainage hole. Because azaleas prefer moist soil that is never soggy, only water the plant when the top 1” to 2” (2.5 – 5 cm) of soil is dry.

(Video) How To Grow Azaleas in Containers, How To Care For Potted Azaleas

How to Grow Azalea Indoors

Azalea Bushes: Caring For Flowering Azalea (including Pruning and Growing in Pots) (4)

Potted azalea indoors

Growing azalea plants in pots is ideal if you want to grow them indoors. The container for an azalea plant should contain slightly acid soil that drains well. For example, you could use peat-based soil that is amended with perlite for better drainage.

A potted azalea plant growing indoors needs plenty of indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight could result in brown flowers and scorched leaves. However, it’s best to check the specific azalea variety as some thrive in direct sunlight.

An azalea indoors thrives in cool to warm temperatures and moderate humidity. Ideally, keep room temperature between 60°F and 70°F (16°C – 21°C) and at least 50 percent humidity. If the air is too dry, you can put the plant pot on a pebble tray with water to increase humidity.

Here are some handy tips for growing a small azalea plant indoors:

  • Allow the plant to go dormant in winter by putting it in a place where the temperature is between 40°F and 55°F (4°C – 13°C)
  • Prune the stems back after flowering to leave about 0.25” (0.6 cm) from the main stem
  • Prune stems at a 45° angle

How to Prune Azalea Shrubs

Pruning azaleas is a way to keep the beautiful bushes blooming year after year and encourage bushy growth. The best time to cut back azaleas is in spring or summer after they have finished blooming. This way, you avoid chopping off the flower buds that will bloom the following year.

The type of pruning azaleas requires depends on your landscaping requirements. Typically, azaleas look best with minimal pruning. Azaleas are suited to a natural, informal look. So, cut back any branches that look out of place. Thinning azalea shrubs by removing leggy branches allows more air to circulate.

If the bush has grown too big, you can “head” the azalea plant. This means cutting back azaleas to around 12” (30 cm) above ground level. Do this in spring before new growth appears. This allows next year’s flower buds to start developing in July. Then when new shoots are 6” to 12” (15 – 30 cm) long, cut the tips off to encourage healthy branching.

How to Transplant Azalea Bushes

Transplanting an azalea shrub in spring is sometimes necessary if you need to change its location. Alternatively, suppose you bought a rooted azalea bush from a garden center. In that case, you’ll need to transplant it to an appropriate place in the garden.

Before digging up the existing plant, prepare the new location. The location should have dappled sunlight or full sun, slightly acidic soil, and excellent drainage. Prepare the site by digging a hole 24” (60 cm) wide and 12” (30 cm) deep.

The next step is to dig around the azalea main stem about a 12” (30 cm) radius and 12” (30 cm) deep. Azaleas have shallow root systems; however, they recover well after transplanting.

Next, gently ease the root ball from the ground and move it to the new hole immediately. Plant the shrub at the same depth as before. Then, backfill the hole, pressing firmly to support the azalea bush. Water thoroughly. And then water with 1” (2.5 cm) of water every week until the plant becomes established.

(Video) How To Prune Azaleas: When To Prune Azaleas In Pots

How to Propagate Azalea Shrubs

Azalea Bushes: Caring For Flowering Azalea (including Pruning and Growing in Pots) (5)

The easiest way to propagate azalea shrubs is by stem cuttings

Using stem cuttings is the easiest way to propagate an azalea shrub. Take five or six stem cuttings after flowering at the end of spring by cutting just below a node. The semi-hardwood cuttings should be 6” to 12” (15 – 30 cm) long and flexible without snapping.

Then remove the leaves from the lower part of the stem and scrape off some of the outer bark from the lower 2” (5 cm) of the stem. Next, dip in rooting hormone and then put the stem cutting into a moist potting mix. This should contain equal parts of compost, peat moss, and sand.

Then place the potted cutting in a sheltered spot with bright sunlight. Roots take between four and eight weeks to develop. During this time, keep the soil moist but not soggy. Keep growing in the container until the following spring. To protect the azalea cuttings during winter, put a layer of organic mulch over the soil surface.

Azalea Problems and Diseases

Azaleas flowers and foliage are generally hardy and free of pests and diseases. However, common garden pests such as caterpillars, lace bugs, rhododendron borers, whiteflies, and bark scale can affect azaleas.

Some ways of getting rid of bugs and destructive insects from azalea bushes include using a neem oil spray, natural Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) spray, or insecticidal soap.

Incorrect watering techniques or poor air circulation can result in fungal or bacterial foliage infections. For example, soggy soil can lead to phytophthora root rot, resulting in wilting, poor growth, and withered leaves.

To resolve issues with root rot, it’s vital to find the infected roots and remove them. Sometimes, only part of the azalea bush has yellowing leaves and other signs of rotting roots

Poor air circulation can result in powdery mildew — a white substance on the leaves. If mildew is an issue, use a milk spray to improve the plant’s appearance. Thinning the branches can help to enhance airflow through the branches. Additionally, when watering, avoid splashing water on the leaves.

Additionally, too much sun and too little soil moisture can result in brown or yellow spots on the leaves.

Related articles:

  • Beautiful Types of Azalea Bushes
  • Landscaping Shrubs for Front of House
  • Flowering Shrubs for Shade

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FAQs

Do azalea do well in pots? ›

Azaleas are hard to beat if you're looking for a low-maintenance plant that produces masses of bright color and attractive foliage. Some deciduous types produce gorgeous autumn colors, while evergreen varieties add year-round interest to the garden. Neat and compact, azaleas are well-suited for container growing.

What is the best time to prune azalea? ›

The best time to prune is at the end of your plants' bloom cycle. Your azaleas and rhododendron will set their buds for next year by the end of August. To avoid cutting off next year's blooms, trim your plant soon after the current blooms fade. For most of us, this will be now or in the next couple of weeks.

How long do potted azaleas last? ›

With bright light and cool temperatures, azalea will bloom for about 3-4 weeks.

Why is my potted azalea dying? ›

Acidic Soil for Azaleas in Pots

Azaleas require an acidic soil of pH 4-6 for the roots to be able to access all the nutrients they require from the soil. If the soil pH is closer to pH 7 or alkaline then the azalea leaves will likely turn yellow, with stunted growth and the plant will die.

Can I plant a potted azalea outside? ›

In fact, many cultivars of this ornamental plant grow exceptionally well when potted into containers and grown outdoors. Though most azalea plants are hardy and robust, they will require some special care to survive from one season to the next.

How do you keep azaleas blooming? ›

How Do I Get Azaleas To Produce More Blooms
  1. Ensure the plants are getting enough sunlight.
  2. Deadhead spent blooms each year.
  3. Fertilize after blooming using a balanced fertilizer.
  4. Apply a layer of mulch and provide sufficient moisture to the plants.
  5. Protect the plants during harsh winters.

How do I bring my azaleas back to life? ›

Generally, to revive the dying indoor Azaleas plant, plunge the pot into a shallow pot with salt-free tepid water to wash off excess fertilizers and salts present in the soil. Use a humidifier or place the pot on top of wet pebbles to increase humidity around the plant.

How big do azaleas grow in pots? ›

A pot that is 16 inches in diameter is the ideal size for growing azaleas. This ensures the pot contains enough soil for insulation in the winter and holds enough moisture for the shallow roots.

Do you remove dead flowers from azaleas? ›

In most cases, deadheading works the same with both evergreen and deciduous Azaleas. It is not necessary to deadhead either type, but you may do so to improve the appearance of the Azalea after blooming is over.

What month do azaleas flower? ›

The Azalea is a garden plant with many faces that looks fantastic in almost any garden, from hyper-minimalist to natural. The plant flowers profusely and elegantly in May and June with romantic flowers in white, pink, red or burgundy, but there are also varieties with bi-coloured flowers.

Will azaleas grow back if cut down? ›

Will azaleas grow back if cut down? Azaleas will grow back if cut down with the method used for rejuvenation pruning, as above. You need to make sure that you do this at the correct time of year, in late winter or early spring, before the growing season, so that the plant will produce new growth.

What do you do with potted azaleas after they bloom? ›

After flowering

Remove the dead flowers. Repotting can then be done if necessary, increasing the pot size by no more than 2.5-5cm (1-2in) in diameter. A suitable potting compost can be made from equal parts leafmould, composted bark, and lime-free sharp sand (alternatively, buy an ericaceous peat-free compost).

How often should you water azaleas? ›

Azaleas in a more shaded area and cooler climate prefer less water, about two or three times a month. If planted in a sunnier and warmer climate, water azaleas about one to two times a week. Keep in mind that azaleas are shallow-rooted plants and need to be kept moist, but are unable to tolerate soggy soil.

What does an overwatered azalea look like? ›

What does an Overwatered Azalea look like? The leaf tips/leaves of Azaleas turn brown in the case of root rot/crown rot. Leaves of the affected Azalea wilt and become droopy. The roots become brown and mushy if your Azalea is infected by Phytophthora.

Do azaleas need shade or sun? ›

Azaleas do well in full sun or part shade (about four hours of sun). Planted in full sun, azaleas will be more compact and floriferous. When planted in part shade, they will stretch toward the sunlight and form a more graceful habit; flowers will not be as plentiful but will last longer.

Where is the best place to plant azaleas? ›

Where to Plant Azaleas. Select a location that has morning sun and afternoon shade, or filtered light. Hot all-day sun can stress the plants and make them more susceptible to pests. Azaleas also require well-drained, acidic soil.

Videos

1. Azalea Bush Care | How to prune azalea | How to fertilize azalea
(The Plant Doctor)
2. RIGHT Way To GROW & CARE For Azalea Plant!
(Gardening Upbeat)
3. How and When to Prune Encore Azaleas - With Tips for Sun and Shade
(Encore Azalea)
4. How to grow and take care Azalea Plant in pot | Potting Mix for Azalea | Banani's Garden
(Banani's Garden)
5. Pruning Azalea Bushes
(Mikes BackyardNursery)
6. How to grow Azalea ,Grow azalea cuttings faster using this techniques and get 100% Success
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