Azalea Hedges - What To Buy and How to Create a Beautiful Hedge - (2022)

Draped in bright blooms every spring, Azaleas make gorgeous hedges. In the right environment, they are low-maintenance and easy to grow, making Azalea hedges an accessible option for home gardeners to create an attractive and practical border.

A wide range of Azaleas are available to choose from for growing a hedge, from dwarf Azaleas, which can create a low border, to tall South Indian hybrids that offer an effective privacy screen. Azaleas can be pruned into formal, box-shaped hedges or allowed to grow in their natural shape. Most varieties reach their mature size in an average of five to ten years.

The best choice of hedge to plant depends on where you live and what purpose you want the hedge to serve. Read on to learn if an Azalea hedge is the right choice for your need, plus step-by-step instructions for planting them correctly.

Can Azaleas be Used as Hedges? What are the Pros and Cons?

Hedges serve a range of purposes, from creating a cozy space to forming a windbreak. Azalea hedges are great for many of these purposes. However, in some cases, an Azalea hedge may not be appropriate.

Pros of Azalea Hedges:

  • If you want a floral hedge, Azaleas are a beautiful choice. They come in many colors, some are fragrant, and some varieties bloom throughout the summer.
  • The many varieties of Azaleas make Azalea hedges highly customizable.
  • Evergreen Azaleas keep most of their leaves in winter. An evergreen Azalea hedge maintains privacy and offers some greenery in winter, which a deciduous hedge would not.
  • Azaleas don’t need to be pruned often.
  • In the right environment, such as the Pacific northwest or the southeast US, Azaleas are easy to grow.

Cons of Azalea Hedges:

  • Azaleas need airflow, so they won’t create as tight of a hedge as some other species. If privacy and a barrier are the primary goals, Azaleas may not be the best choice.
  • Pruning Azaleas into a formal hedge shape reduces flowering, especially on top.
  • Some people dislike box-shaped Azalea hedges for aesthetic reasons, preferring the shrubs in their natural shape. This is entirely a matter of preference, however. In Japan, for instance, formally pruned Azaleas are popular.
  • Azaleas may not thrive in areas with naturally alkaline soil or very harsh winters.

How Big Do Azaleas Get? How Fast Do They Grow?

How long does it take an Azalea hedge to reach full size? The answer is: it depends. There are hundreds of Azalea varieties available, and they come in a wide range of different sizes. The climate and growing environment also affect how fast and how big Azaleas grow. That being said, there are some general guidelines.

Azalea size is usually described based on how tall the Azalea will grow in ten years. Dwarf Azalea varieties are two to three feet tall after ten years. Medium or average Azaleas grow to four to six feet. Large varieties, such as South Indian hybrids, can be ten feet tall or more.

Azaleas grow fastest when they are young, slowing down their growth as they age. The average speed of growth ranges from two to ten inches per year, with large varieties generally growing more per year than small varieties. South Indian and Kurume Azaleas are among the fastest-growing types of Azaleas.

Some Azaleas can reach mature size in a shorter time, like Encore Azaleas that reach their full size in three to seven years. Be sure to take into account the age of the Azalea when you buy it. If you buy a small Azalea, it will take longer to reach full size than if you buy one that is already older.

Location is another factor in determining how fast and large an Azalea will grow, as unhealthy plants may fail to grow. Generally, Azaleas grow fastest in a humid climate. And, since Azaleas don’t grow during the winter, climates with longer winters will see less growth per year than areas with short winters.

Which Azaleas Are Best for Hedges?

The best Azalea for your hedge depends on your goals. Medium to large Azalea varieties make for the most private, sheltering hedges, while long-blooming Azalea varieties, such as Encore Azaleas, offer beautiful blossoms from spring through fall, rather than only in spring.

Evergreen Azaleas are often considered best for hedges because they keep their leaves in winter, maintaining privacy and interest. Japanese Azaleas, which are evergreen, are a good choice for dense hedges. Pruning Azaleas into uniform shapes is popular in Japan, and varieties have been cultivated for this purpose.

Kurume, South Indian, and Rutherfordiana hybrids are popular choices for Azalea hedges. Other options include Girard, Mucronatum, Koromo Shikibu, Gable, Exbury, and Western Azalea varieties.

It is essential to check that the Azalea you choose for your hedge is suited to your climate. A great variety in the wrong place won’t thrive and could produce a patchy hedge.

How to Plant Azaleas for Hedges

Now that you have an idea which types of Azaleas work well for hedges, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Below you’ll find the step-by-step instructions for planting an Azalea hedge.

Step 1: Determine if Azaleas will thrive in the spot you want your hedge. Azaleas like lots of filtered sunlight and well-drained, acidic soil. For more information on the soil that works best for Azaleas, click here.

Step 2: Select an Azalea variety that suits your climate and the purpose of your hedge. Consider how tall and how dense you want your hedge to be and choose a variety accordingly.

Step 3: Find out how wide the Azalea variety you’ve chosen will spread. It will likely say on the label. If the mature spread is three feet, leave three feet of space between each plant; if the mature spread is four feet, leave four feet of space, etc. This will give you some overlap but also allow the shrubs enough space to breathe.

Step 4: For each shrub, dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide as it is deep. Place the root ball in the hole with the top just above the surface. Mix some organic matter with the soil before refilling the hole. Water and mulch.

Spring and fall are the best times to plant Azaleas.

How to Prune Azaleas for Hedges

You can choose to have your Azalea hedge grow in the plants’ natural shape or prune your hedge into a uniform box shape. Azaleas flourish either way, so this is a purely aesthetic choice.

Azaleas don’t really need pruning, so if you prefer a natural shape, simply let the Azaleas do their thing. You can remove any dead bits and cut back any branches that look out of place, but this isn’t necessary.

If you prune your Azalea hedge, you should do it right after the plants have finished blooming. Azaleas begin growing buds for next year during the preceding summer, so if you wait too long to prune, you will cut some of the buds off and have fewer flowers next year. There is no need to cut at a connecting branch.

Other Flowering Plants For Hedges

If an Azalea hedge doesn’t suit your needs, there are other choices for flowering hedges. You can even mix Azaleas with other shrubs to add interest to a border. Other flowering shrubs that make good hedges are:

  • Rhododendron, zones 4-8
  • Hydrangea, zones 4-9
  • Hibiscus, zones 5-9
  • Rose of Sharon (Shrub Althaea), zones 5-9
  • Lilac, zones 3-7
  • California Lilac (Ceanothus), zones 8-10
  • Forsythia, zones 5-8
  • Weigela, zones 4-8
  • Viburnum, zones 4-8
  • Mexican Orange Blossom (Mock Orange, Choisya), zones 8-10
  • Spirea (Meadowsweet), zones 3-9

Putting It All Together

Azaleas can be used to create beautiful flowering hedges and borders. They can be formally pruned or not, as per your preference. Azaleas are relatively low maintenance and don’t necessarily require pruning.

Whether an Azalea hedge is right for you will depend on where you live and the purpose of the hedge. Evergreen Azaleas offer greenery and privacy year-round. Encore hybrids bloom throughout the summer. South Indian and Kurume are faster-growing varieties and are popular for hedges.

Azaleas make growing a hedge easy. All you need to do is choose a variety that will work for your location, measure out enough space between shrubs, plant, and let nature do the rest.


Do azaleas make a good hedge? ›

Draped in bright blooms every spring, Azaleas make gorgeous hedges. In the right environment, they are low-maintenance and easy to grow, making Azalea hedges an accessible option for home gardeners to create an attractive and practical border.

What are the fastest growing azaleas? ›

Types. Southern Indian hybrids grow very rapidly. The group of evergreen azaleas known as kurume hybrids are dwarf-sized plants that grow quickly, though not as fast as Southern Indian hybrids, reaching a final height of anywhere from 2 to 6 feet depending on the cultivar.

Where is the best place to plant azalea bushes? ›

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.

How much space does an azalea need? ›

So, here's a quick guide: if the mature spread of your azalea is 3 feet, then set your azaleas in the ground 3-feet-apart on center. This will allow your azaleas to touch and form a formal hedge at maturity. If you prefer a mounded natural look with space between plants, then consider 4- to 5-foot spacing on center.

What makes a pretty hedge? ›

For an effective hedge you need attractive plants that are fast growing. They should also have dense foliage. Consider the mature height and width of the plants. It's important that your hedge is continuous and does not leave gaping holes.

How do you make an azalea hedge? ›

How to Use Azaleas as Hedges : Fall & Winter Gardening Tips - YouTube

What is a good fertilizer for azaleas? ›

If you prefer to give your plants an extra boost, and add fertilizer to your azaleas, we recommend getting one that is acidic and designed for Azaleas & rhododendrons specifically. If you do not have any azalea fertilizer available, a well balanced slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer always works.

What month do you plant azaleas? ›

The best time to plant azaleas is in spring and fall. Plant them in a sunny spot that gets a good amount of afternoon shade. When planting azaleas, fill the hole with a 50/50 blend of existing soil and Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees & Shrubs. Once planted, gently tamp the soil and water thoroughly.

How long does it take azaleas to reach full size? ›

The 1-gallon plants are 9- to 12-months younger than 3-gallon plants, and will take the longest to reach full size (6 to 7 years). If you purchase large 7-gallon plants, these have been growing 3 to 4 years at the nursery and will take another 3 to 4 years to reach a mature look in the landscape.

Can I use Miracle Grow on azaleas? ›

Help acid-loving plants like azalea, camellia, gardenia, hibiscus, holly, hydrangea, orchids, rhododendron, and many others thrive with Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Azalea, Camellia, Rhododendron Plant food.

Are coffee grounds good for azalea bushes? ›

Feed Your Acid-Loving Plants

Place coffee grounds around the soil of your acid-loving plants such as azaleas, hydrangeas, lilies, roses, rhododendrons, holly, gardenias and many others. Coffee grounds increase acidity and nutrients in the soil. This is our favorite reason to use coffee grounds in your garden.

Do azaleas spread? ›

Plants have a compact growth habit. Mature heights are between two and four feet, with a spread of one to four feet. This makes them ideal for planting in mixed beds, borders, containers, and rockeries.

What do azaleas look like in winter? ›

These symptoms normally are descriptive of an “end-of-the-growing-season” look. Some azaleas, like the popular Fashion variety, have bronzy to purple-looking foliage in the winter. All evergreen azaleas go through a stage when old foliage is being lost and new foliage is emerging for spring.

How tall and wide do azaleas grow? ›

Then, they'll produce another wave of flowers in the summer and again in the fall. Azaleas prefer a partially shady location and do well under the canopy of taller deciduous trees. The plants will eventually grow 5 feet tall and 5 feet wide so be sure to give them plenty of room to stretch out as they mature.

What should I plant in front of azalea hedge? ›

The Best Companion Plants for Azaleas
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) ...
  • Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) ...
  • Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) ...
  • Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) ...
  • Plantain lily (Hosta) ...
  • Spotted dead nettle (Lamium maculatum) ...
  • Holly (Ardisia crenata) ...
  • Barberry (Berberis buxifolia)
Apr 6, 2022

What is the fastest growing privacy hedge? ›

With growth rates from 3 to 5 feet per year the fastest growing privacy hedges are Thuja Green Giant, Leyland Cypress, Cryptomeria Radicans, and Wax Myrtle. Carolina Sapphire Cypress, Nellie Stevens Holly, Oakland Holly, and Wavy Leaf Ligustrum offer fast privacy with 2 to 3 feet of upward growth per year.

What is the fastest growing hedging? ›

Leylandii - Green

Leylandii is a fast-growing hedge plant that has the quickest growth rate of approximately 75-90cm per year. Leylandii, also known as Cupressocyparis, is a stunning hedge plant that will add elegance to your garden.

What is the best time of year to plant azaleas? ›

The best time to plant azaleas is in spring and fall. Plant them in a sunny spot that gets a good amount of afternoon shade. When planting azaleas, fill the hole with a 50/50 blend of existing soil and Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees & Shrubs.

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