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What Are the Best Tips for Planting Azaleas?

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  • Written By: Amber Eberle
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 05 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Azaleas are shrubs that produce flowers once or twice each year, depending on the type of plant. These specimens grow well with proper care, but when planting azaleas it is important to do so in a climate that they can tolerate. Gardeners should keep in mind that these shrubs are sensitive to the soil they are planted in and have daily sun requirements.

The ideal climate for growing azaleas is one that is humid and has mild temperatures. There are over 6,000 types of azaleas, however, and different species can grow well in less than ideal conditions. When purchasing these shrubs, it is generally beneficial to buy the plant from a local nursery that keeps plants outdoors. This can ensure that the azaleas will tolerate local conditions.

When planting azaleas, the location they are placed in is important. These shrubs require several hours of full sun during the morning hours and at least partial shade in the afternoon. Planting azaleas in a spot with northern or eastern exposure usually provides the proper sun and shade amounts each day.

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Soil must be properly prepared before planting, in order for azaleas to grow and thrive. The plants need acidic soil with sufficient iron. Ideally, raised beds, 15 to 18 inches (38 to 46 cm) deep, should be built and equal parts of pine bark and peat moss should be mixed with the soil. If the location where the azaleas are being planted does not have soil that drains well, builder's sand can be added to the soil mixture to remedy the problem.

Before planting azaleas, remove the burlap liner from the shrub's root ball and examine its size. The hole dug for the plant should be twice as wide, and one and a half times as deep, as the root ball. The roots should then be carefully loosened to encourage their growth after planting. Position the ball in the soil so the top is just above ground. The soil should then be patted down gently, taking care not to press it against the trunk of the shrub.

Water the soil until it is very moist but not overly wet when planting azaleas. Many gardeners also add a high nitrogen plant fertilizer that also contains iron and sulfur to meet the plant's needs. Do not use a drip system for watering, as this method does not usually provide adequate water to the whole root system. Watering from above, including the leaves, with a hose works well, as does a sprinkler system.

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