An azalea is a beautiful addition to any yard or garden. Knowing how to keep it healthy with fertilization is key. Here’s how to fertilize your azaleas:
Azaleas are a beloved plant of the South. Though, you wouldn’t expect them to have such a deep, Eastern history finding their way from Japan! One may consider fertilizer for azaleas to encourage these dazzling displays of colors.
You must consider all factors when planting to experience their amazing, Spring-time bloom. Here’s what to know about their care and the timing to add fertilizer for azaleas.
A Guide To Care And Fertilizer For Azaleas
Caring for Azaleas: A Basic Primer
Azaleas bloom twice each year. They are a popular choice because of their beauty and low-maintenance. Yet, they do need some care to ensure stable growth and vibrant blooms.
Place Azaleas in:
Partially shaded, well-drained areas
Watering 2x weekly at its base
A liberal layer of mulch
Caring for Azaleas requires constant monitoring of ground wetness. The ground needs moisture without water-logging the plant. Check the pH and moisture levels to ensure optimal growth.
If you do decide to use fertilizer for Azaelas — consider the following…
When to Add Fertilizer for Azaleas
Plants can experience nutrient deficiency despite the best green thumb efforts.
Azaleas are especially prone to nutrient deficiency because of their shallow root system. The topsoil dries and so does the plant. Nutrients washed from the ground area cause further frustration.
Look for the tell-tale signs:
Dry or soggy soil
You may feel inclined to fertilize to combat these problems — Don’t!
Know Your Plant
The different varieties of Azaleas will play a factor.
Azaleas bloom in late spring and early summer. But, each variety experiences different growth patterns. Check your azalea type to see what growers recommend for optimal growth and blooms.
Also, consider your planting zone, too, to determine hardiness and success rate of your growths.
A Good Rule of (Green) Thumb
Only add fertilizer for azaleas during late winter or early spring. Else, aim for when they’re in or slightly after bloom.
Fertilizing during the off-times is a no-no.
You’ll have leafy growth if adding fertilizer too early into their growth cycle. Or, you could cause damage by insulating the soil during the cold winter months.
How to Fertilize Your Azaleas
Azaleas do not need high levels of nutrients. Often, basic mulching with organic compost or materials will do a good job. Choose fertilizer based on high nitrogen or acid-forming compounds if you’re buying retail.
The best fertilizer for azaleas include:
Dr. Earth Azalea Fertilizer
Jobe’s Organics Plant Food for Azaleas
Miracle-Gro Azalea Plant Food
Suggested fertilization is 1lb per 1,000sq ft. Else, about a tablespoon of fertilizer, mixed with water, to the area.
Have Your Head in the Clouds this Spring
Azaleas are a Southern favorite because they provide evergreen beauty. They’re an easy plant with the right care. Their blooms? Simply stunning.
Ready to add color to your home or garden? We have a wide selection of azaleas.
Come check out our top-selling Autumn Bonfire or Autumn Sangria! Or, drop us a line because we’d love to have your head in the clouds this spring, too!
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- Winterizing, Pruning and Fertilizing Your Azaleas
- Azalea tips
- Most azalea varieties bloom in the spring with some blooming a month or so earlier.
- Azaleas need loving care to maintain their beauty
- Azalea Fertilizer Tips – What’s The Best Fertilizer For Azaleas
- When to Fertilize Azalea Shrubs
- How to Feed Azaleas
- Azalea Fertilizing Tips
- How to Fertilize Encore® Azaleas
- The best time to fertilize is right after spring bloom.
- Use a well-balanced, slow release, granular azalea/camellia fertilizer.
- Fertilize once at the beginning of spring.
Winterizing, Pruning and Fertilizing Your Azaleas
Ask the Expert: what should i be doing to my azaleas now (NOvember)
My azaleas have not been doing as well as I like. When do we fertilize them and what pointers will help me to care for them? My Azaleas are planted outside. They are about 2 1/2 feet high and look healthy but I have not been getting flowers in March as in the past. I live in South Carolina. When is the time when they should be fertilized and when does one do it? Also, when do you trim the bushes? Thank you so much. Frances
Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:
Don’t be alarmed at the lack of blooming this past year. Occasionally azaleas will be thrown off by inconsistency in the season – too cold, too wet, too dry too hot. However, if the problem persists for more than one year an issue may exist that needs to be corrected.
To determine what the problem is, we must first evaluate all the factors that contribute to blooming.
First is light exposure. Has the amount of light the azaleas are exposed to throughout the year changed. When azaleas do not get enough light during the growing season blooming can become inhibited. A solution for this is to give the azaleas more light by pruning the trees or shrubs that are shading them. At the same time, too much light at mid-day can cause scorching. However, this won’t keep blooms from forming.
Second factor is fertilization. Azaleas can be heavy feeders needing fertilizer monthly during the growing season. I usually recommend fertilizing your azaleas April through August. I like to use a granular slow release fertilizer that contains a systemic insecticide. Your local garden center and nursery should have the fertilizer you need. You might ask them what they recommend in your area as a fertilizer and the time period in which to fertilize them. You do not want to fertilize your azaleas during the dormancy period.
Third factor is pruning. The rule of thumb is to prune your azaleas immediately after they finish blooming or at least within that month. If you prune your azaleas at the wrong time, you might cut the future blooms off. Azaleas set their blooms many months in advance of when they actually bloom. You can prune your azalea severely or lightly depending on how much height and shape you need.
Another factor is proper care during the winter. In the fall, you need to mulch around your azaleas. You can use a multitude of different materials to do this – pine straw, hardwood mulch, pine mulch, cypress mulch, etc. You can discuss the options with your local garden center and nursery. Depending on the winter, your blooms can be damage if the weather becomes extremely cold. When we have had extreme temperatures in our area, I have actually iced my azaleas. Icing involves wetting the azaleas so that ice forms and the plant stays at 32° F. Before you attempt this talk to your local garden center. they will be able to determine if this is the right course of action for your area.
Hopefully these suggestion will help remedy your azalea issues.
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Most azalea varieties bloom in the spring with some blooming a month or so earlier.
Blooms typically last for one or two weeks. In warm climates, some azalea varieties bloom again in the autumn.
Photo – D. Kucharski K. Kucharska/.com
Our tips for the best display:
– High shade is preferable but deciduous varieties do well in full sun, especially in cool areas. While more sun typically produces more compact plants with more blooms, the blooms will not last as long.
– Slightly acid soil (pH 5.5-6) is best
– A thick mulch of pine needles or sugar cane helps to keep moisture in the ground, even out changes in the soil temperature and stops weeds germinating.
– Azaleas do not like “wet feet” so plant your azalea with the top of the root ball a few inches above ground level and mulch well. This is particularly important with heavy clay soil.
Photo – KPG_Payless/.com
– Azaleas like moist soil at their roots. This may require supplementary watering, at least until plants are established in the ground for a few years. Adequate water after bloom helps to produce more flower buds for next year. An infrequent deep soaking is more effective than superficial sprinkling. The amount of water needed depends on the soil, temperature, humidity, wind and sunlight.
– Established azaleas do not need fertilizer, just a mulch of cow manure to feed the soil.
To avoid cutting off next year’s flower buds, do major pruning of azaleas soon after they bloom. Shortening or removal of long slender stems with no side shoots and cutting out dead wood may be done at any time.
– Use a fungicidal spray in the spring as the buds show colour will control petal blight, a fungal disease that causes petals to collapse.
Photo – Ian Grainger/.com
Text: Linda Ross
Come March and April, a beautiful thing happens in the Lowcountry! Yes, the weather is great and the sun is shining, but perhaps one of the most fantastic events is the blooming of the azaleas. Everyone has their favorite color – purple, pink, red or white – and everywhere you go their bushy flowering shrubs dot the roadways and yards of Charlestonians. As these beauties finish off their spring blooms, we’ve got a few tips for caring for your azaleas.
1) Pick your colors – Will you select just one color azalea for your yard or will you choose a wild color variety
that fits nicely with this plant’s “wild” nature? Plan your color selection before you purchase and plant.
2) You can still plant them in spring – While fall is the best time to plant azaleas, giving them time to get established with proper hydration, you can still plant them in spring if you missed fall. Purchase some blooming plants and use the guidelines below to plant in your yard.
3) They need some shade – We know more than a few people who have made the mistake of planting these poor fellows in full sun and sadly watched them wither away. Be sure to plant them – or move them if you have to – in an area that gets neither full sun nor full shade. Under a pine tree is a great spot, because just enough sun can filter through. You’ll also want to keep them out of direct wind.
4) Give them slightly acidic soil – You’ll probably want to test your soil’s pH to make sure it’s ideal for your azaleas. A pH of 4-5.5 is perfect; anything that is too alkaline will cause their leaves to yellow or the plant to die away. If needed, you can lower the pH of your soil by using ammonium sulphate.
5) Use mulch and keep moist – Because azaleas like a moist soil, use mulch, such as pine needles, around the bush to help keep moisture in the soil. Be sure to water the plants during dry periods.
6) Prune them after their spring bloom – If you want to prune them , do so before July, as that is when they begin to develop buds for next spring. Don’t cut back too much, however, just enough to tidy it up. Too much pruning can shock the plant and inhibit next year’s flowering.
Got azaleas in the yard of your Sabal home? Please share your pics with us on Facebook or Pinterest!
For more information about building a new Charleston home, visit www.sabalhomessc.com or call 843-830-0158.
Oldest collection of Indica Azaleas in America.
First garden to plant azaleas outdoors – 1840’s
When the Indian Azaleas are in bloom, they are – without a doubt – the greatest attraction at Magnolia.
Magnolia was the first garden in America to plant azaleas outside. In the spring, hundreds of thousands of blooming azaleas grace the paths and lake basins. Their reflections in the lake’s dark waters are utterly stunning. Hundreds of varieties of Indica, Kurume, Satsuki, Glen Dales, native azaleas and other hybrids are in Magnolia’s collection. New varieties are added annually.
Working with The Great Gardens of America Preservation Alliance in 2010, Magnolia identified 15 varieties of Indian Azaleas previously thought to be extinct. They are being propagated to share with other preservation-minded gardens across the nation. One of Magnolia’s primary objectives is to locate and preserve these older azalea varieties for future generations to enjoy.
In 1981, The Philadelphia Enquirer wrote: “The star attraction of Magnolia is acres and acres of brilliant azaleas, camellias, roses, hibiscus, lilies and more. The ever changing color is linked by centuries old brick lined paths and mysterious black lakes that once were planted rice fields. John Galsworthy described the garden too beautiful to paint. Decades later, it is still difficult not to agree.”
Come and enjoy Magnolia’s beautiful romantic gardens to renew your soul.
“I have seen gardens, many gardens in England, France and Italy … But no horticulture that I have seen devised by Mortal man approaches the unearthly enchantment of the azaleas at Magnolia gardens”, Lady Baltimore Magazine, 1906
“The Magnolia Gardens near Charleston, SC are among the most remarkable gardens of the south and are especially famous for their azaleas”, Journal of The Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University, 1921.
Magnolia Plantation & Gardens is a member of the Azalea Society of America. Visit azaleas.org, THE website for information about azaleas and the Azalea Society of America.
WHAT’S IN BLOOM? View Magnolia’s 12-Month Gallery of Blooms
Azaleas need loving care to maintain their beauty
When azaleas complete their blooming season, it will be time to fertilize, prune and mulch.
Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or one especially formulated for acid-loving plants. Follow label directions carefully as azalea roots are located very close to the soil surface. Over fertilization can cause damage and plant death.
Overgrown limbs should be pruned out to restore the plant’s natural shape. Delaying pruning until later in the season can destroy next year’s flower buds.
Lace bugs are the primary insect pest on azaleas. They feed on the leaves with their piercing-sucking mouthparts.
The upper sides of the damaged leaves show a whitish speckling caused by the insects feeding on the undersides of the leaves. Garden stores carry the necessary insecticides to control lace bugs.
Another problem occasionally seen on azaleas is iron deficiency. Sometimes iron deficiency is confused with lace bug damage. Iron deficiency gives the leaves a pale yellow appearance rather than the white speckling caused by lace bugs. Again, garden stores stock iron supplements that can be sprayed on the plants or applied to the soil to correct the problem.
To manage moisture, azalea plants need a good soaking of water once a week. A 3- to 4- inch layer of mulch in flowerbeds will conserve moisture and reduce weed competition.
For more information on home landscaping, contact your local UGA Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
Azalea Fertilizer Tips – What’s The Best Fertilizer For Azaleas
Azaleas are among the iconic flowering shrubs of the South, but they also thrive in many states across the country. They offer early spring blossoms in bright colors. Compared with other heavily blooming shrubs, azaleas are not hungry plants. Fertilizer for azaleas is often unnecessary unless the plants are showing signs of nutritional deficiency. It is important to recognize when to fertilize azalea plants and when it is not necessary. Read on for azalea fertilizer tips.
When to Fertilize Azalea Shrubs
If you work organic compost or dried, chopped leaves into well-draining garden soil before planting your azalea shrubs, this may be all of the fertilizer for azaleas required. It is only if the plants show signs of nutritional deficiency or are growing too slowly that you may need to set up an azalea fertilizing schedule.
An azalea with a nutritional deficiency shows signs that it has a problem. It can produce leaves that are smaller than normal or that turn yellow and drop early. A shrub suffering from nutritional deficiency may also show stunted growth. If the branch tips are dead and the leaves are darker green than normal, it may signal a phosphorus deficiency.
Since these symptoms can also be caused by other cultural practices or even growing conditions like compacted soil, you’ll want to get your soil tested to see if it is lacking in nutrients. If the symptoms are caused by nutrient deficiency in the soil, fertilizer will help, but it obviously will not solve other cultural problems.
Wait until your soil test results come in to decide on treatment. Don’t spend a lot of time learning how to feed azaleas until you are sure the plants require fertilizer.
How to Feed Azaleas
The type of fertilizer your shrub requires can be determined from a soil test. If you don’t test the soil, select a general, balanced fertilizer such as 15-15-15. The numbers refer to the proportionate amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the product.
The nutrient your azalea is most likely to need is nitrogen. This also encourages the shrub to grow faster. Most recommendations for fertilizer for azaleas are based on nitrogen.
You’ll want to learn exactly how to feed azaleas before you begin applying the fertilizer. Since the idea is to get the fertilizer absorbed by the plant roots, you’ll want to spread it over the entire root area, which usually extends far beyond the canopy of the bush.
In fact, azalea roots can extend three times as far as the distance from the trunk to the branch tips. If that distance is three feet, you need to fertilize the soil 9 feet from the trunk. Sketch out a circle on the soil with the trunk as its center and 9 feet as its radius. Sprinkle the grains of fertilizer in that entire area, then water in well. Be sure to wash off any grains of the fertilizer for azalea plants that fall on the foliage.
Azalea Fertilizing Tips
You do not need to set up an azalea fertilizing schedule, since you don’t need to fertilize these shrubs throughout the growing season. Fertilize only when the plants show signs of needing fertilizer for azalea. Don’t ever fertilize during a drought when the plant will not have access to sufficient water.
If you use fresh sawdust or wood chips as mulch on your azaleas, you’ll probably need to fertilize the plants. As those products decompose, they use up the nitrogen in the soil.
How to Fertilize Encore® Azaleas
Follow these guidlines and watch your Encore Azaleas thrive.
The best time to fertilize is right after spring bloom.
This spring application may be all you need, but if you live in an area with a lot of rainfall and a long growing season, you may want to make a second application in mid to late summer, making sure not to fertilize after August 1st.
Use a well-balanced, slow release, granular azalea/camellia fertilizer.
The mix is well-balanced if the 3 numbers on the packaging are the same or similar. These numbers represent: (N) Nitrogen – promotes new growth/foliage; (P) Phosphorus – promotes plant blooms; (K) Potassium – strengthens roots/stems.
Fertilize once at the beginning of spring.
If you need to fertilize again, do so before August, as Encore Azaleas are sensitive to heavy fertilization. Apply liquid fertilizer directly to foliage and roots for an additional nutrient boost. Always follow label instructions and water well, no matter the brand.
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To browse the full Encore Azalea collection, click here.