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 prevent diseases that can ruin the blossoms.
Spring 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. Do keep the mulch 6 inches or so back from the base of the plant. Gardeners can also apply a feeding following fertilizer label instructions. Just make sure the fertilizer is watered into a moist soil. Keeping the soil too dry after a spring feeding can cause rapid flower decline.
- Check the soil acidity and adjust to a pH of between 4.5 and 5.5.
- Apply additional feedings in May, August and early October.
- 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.