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Secrets to Azalea Success

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by Tom MacCubbin
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Picture: Tom MacCubbin


Many gardeners have given up on azaleas and maybe with good reason. They do take a bit of care. Azaleas start spring off with a big burst of color. Some varieties add a few flowers throughout the year but locally old time favorites including Duc de Rohan, Formosa and George Lindley Taber still provide a major show during the months of February and March.

At this time it’s important to keep the plants moist but not overly wet. Water when the surface inch of soil begins to dry to the touch. It’s also a good idea to water early in the morning so the moisture dries from the flowers and foliage as soon as the sun rises. This helps to prevents diseases that can ruin the blossoms.
Late winter is also a good time to renew mulch layers. Maintaining the layer at the 2- to 3- inch level helps conserve moisture and prevents diseases. Gardeners can also apply a light feeding. Just make sure the fertilizer is watered into a moist soil. Keeping the soil too dry after a winter feeding can cause rapid flower decline.

Use the following tips to keep your azaleas healthy throughout the year:

Check the soil acidity and adjust to a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5.
Apply additional feedings in June and September.
Prune azaleas after flowering and before the end of June.

Periodically remove some of the older and declining limbs during pruning.

Control mites and lace bugs with an oil spray as needed.

Many gardeners are no longer planting azaleas. How about you?




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