Care & Feeding of Azaleas

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Azaleas--a landscaping favorite in a variety of zones--herald the spring with a burst of beautiful color. One reason for their popularity is their relatively easy care. With just a little attention a couple of times per year, these shrubs will perform like few others.

Pruning

  • Azaleas may be pruned annually to control size. This is best done in the weeks just after the blooms fade. Waiting any longer risks cutting off the origin of next year's blooms, which are set in the fall.

Fertilize

  • Azaleas may require a dose of acidic fertilizer a couple of times per year. Just apply to the surface of the soil around the underneath the plant and out to the drip line. If your plant is stressed due to drought, put off fertilizing until the soil is moist and conditions are better.

Water

  • The roots of an azalea plant are near the surface of the soil, making dehydration a threat during dry conditions. Make sure your plant receives adequate moisture by watering with a soaker hose or drip line to a depth of about 6 to 8 inches. Don't over-do it, though. Water-logged plants suffer decline as well.

Pests and Diseases

  • Although they're typically tough plants, a few problems can affect your azalea. Look out for powdery mildew (a fungus that looks like white powder on the leaves) and petal blight (mottled or damaged blooms in spring). You might avoid powdery mildew by choosing a sunnier location for the plant since the fungus thrives in shade. Petal blight can be alleviated with an application of fungicide just as the blooms begin to show color.

    Lacebugs are among the common pests for azaleas. Look for spotted or mottled leaves as evidence of an infestation. Spraying with an insecticide may reduce or eliminate this problem.

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References

  • Photo Credit Azalea image by fabiomarc from Fotolia.com
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