To plant azaleas, select an area shielded from strong winds that receives sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. Plant azaleas in the spring or fall. Place azalea buds 1 or 2 inches above soil level. Apply mulch to increase the soil nutrient content and to keep the soil loose.
Plant azaleas in raised beds or containers if the soil has poor drainage. Apply fertilizer for acid-loving plants between late spring and early fall if the soil has low nitrogen levels. Low nitrogen manifests as slow growth, small green-yellow leaves and premature leaf drop.
Ensure the soil has a pH between 5 and 6.5. Azaleas need good drainage. Loose rich soil with a high nutrient content drains water effectively and provides the Azalea with enough nutrients, avoiding the need for fertilizer. Improve soil conditions by mixing the soil with compost 18 inches deep. Add pine straw and pine bark mulch around the plant annually. Mulch also retains moisture during droughts.
Water abundantly instead of regularly. Avoid damage during the winter by watering before the first hard freeze.
Trim azaleas after their blooming period to control their shape and size. Do not prune during the summer to avoid cutting new blooms. Use pruning shears to trim branches, but don't remove more than 1/3 of the total branch size. Rejuvenate azaleas by selecting between three and five of the largest branches and cutting them by 1/3 or 1/2. Trim the top of the branches to reshape yet azaleas but maintain a natural look.