Q:

How do you care for azalea bushes?

A:

Quick Answer

Azalea bushes require little care except providing sufficient water, mulch and light pruning. Water azaleas to keep the soil from getting too dry but not so much that it remains soggy. Since azaleas have shallow roots, don't cultivate around them, and add a layer of mulch to hold in moisture. To maintain the plant's compact appearance, prune azaleas in the spring, after they have finished blooming.

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Full Answer

Plant azaleas in partial sun to filtered shade and in well-drained, organically rich, acidic soil for best growth and to minimize diseases and pests. Azaleas that get too much sun are susceptible to lace bugs and spider mites. If azaleas get too little sun, they are subject root rot, petal blight and leaf spots. Frequent fertilizing is not necessary, especially if using pine needles as mulch since they maintain the acidity of the soil. If azaleas experience stunted growth, early leaf drop or have small greenish-yellow leaves, the soil does not have enough nitrogen, and fertilizer is necessary. Add fertilizer to the soil in the late spring or early fall. Mulch azaleas in the spring but not in the fall. Mulching in the fall holds in heat and may delay dormancy. Azaleas absorb water through their leaves as well as their roots, so sprinklers are a good way to water, but be sure to do it in the morning to prevent fungal diseases.

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