Understanding the Azalea Plant: Growing & Caring Tips

Juliet D'cruz

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It seems like Azalea plants have been with us forever. For most plant lovers, Azalea has that old-fashioned charm that brings us back to our childhood. A common plant in our neighborhood that we pass going to school or church and already part of our lives.

Another reason Azalea’s popularity is due to its wonderful display of colorful blooms especially at its peak season. It never ceases to draw everyone’s attention. No wonder it is called “Royalty of the Garden”.

Whether you want them as a houseplant or as part of your outdoor garden, you will know that understanding some sensible tips and tricks to keep them thriving will surely come handy in the future. Read on and enjoy hardening!

Know Your Plant

The Azalea plant that comes from the genus called Rhododendron is a popular outdoor plant that can be grown indoors too. This two-lipped flowering shrub spreads fragrant scents especially during spring time and many garden enthusiasts think that azaleas look best when clustered.

Outdoor and Indoor Planting

Whether you are planning to grow azaleas outdoors or indoors, there are just some basic guidelines that you should follow to up your chances of success. Here are some effective tips from expert gardeners to make your attempt at growing Azaleas a thumbs up even on your first try.

  •         Azalea Outdoors

Azalea is a great compliment to most landscapes. This plant is actually more recognized as an outdoor plant though it could also be grown indoors. The process of planting is pretty simple too.

First, check if the soil is a hospitable one which is fine, loose, open soil that will readily accept Azalea’s fine roots. If in case you have a different soil available like clay, you can mix together with the original soil some organic plant compost, container mix or planter.

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To make your Azalea root spread out like crazy, take the root ball out of the container of your purchased plant, get a razor and scrape the root ball on all sides, loosen the soil with your finger and plant them on the ground area. Cover with mixed soil and add starter fertilizer.

The next step is mulching. Mulching is a process wherein you put mulch like pine straw, sawdust, leaves, rotting vegetables or compost put around the plant to reduce evaporation, maintain soil moisture, control weeds, prevent soil erosion and even protect plants from animals. Water as needed.

  •         Azaleas Indoors

For those who want to bring Azalea indoors, you need not worry.  Growing them in your homes or offices is possible, simple and easy.

Basically, it can be grown in pots with the same process as outdoors. However, if the plant you got is in its blooming stage, it is best that you wait for the last bud to bloom before fertilizing the plant.

 Put it in a cool location not under direct sunlight. Depending on the variety, Azaleas can be a tough cookie that can withstand hot conditions. So, check for the variety too.

Azalea Care & Maintenance

  •         Sunlight

Avoid fully –shaded or direct sun exposure places for Azalea plants. Opt for a medium spot.

  •         Water

If your Azalea is planted in a direct sunlight setting it may need to be watered more often as compared to the Azalea in a shaded location or those in container pots indoors, where once or twice a week watering can suffice.

Watering Azaleas can also depend on the rainfall or how hot summers can be. You can check the weather to guide you on how to water your plants.

For indoor plants, do not be misled by the moist-to-the-touch of the soil. This does not mean that they have enough water. Check if it is light or heavy. You can also try a trick by immerging the plastic pot in the water. If bubbles appear that means the water is displacing those empty pockets in the soil.  

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  •         Pests

Here are some pests that you should watch out for when caring for Azaleas:

  •         Azalea bark scales bring about sooty mold around branches.
  •         Lace bug destructs the foliage by leaving grayish cast on it.
  •         Leafminers leave skeletonized and rolled leaves.
  •         Whiteflies are colored snow-white that lays yellowish crawlers which suck on juices of the plant causing yellow leaves.
  •         Peony scales are purple insects shaped circular or oval and hide behind plant barks, and infests the plant leaving it thin and depleted vitality.
  •         Leaf-eating caterpillar is an insect that grows from green to purple to black-yellow worms that feed mostly on Azalea causing white splotches on the leaves.
  •         Toxicity

Make sure that children, dogs and cats do not eat any part of Azalea because it is poisonous. The honey from its blossoms that leaks on the plant called “mad honey” is quite lethal when taken in huge amounts.  

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The Azalea plant is a prized treasure from our descendants. They have stayed strong, sturdy and beautiful for years to give us happiness and a charming vision in our gardens, homes and offices. In the end, we can say that being informed about the Azalea plant is a great way to understand how to grow them the right way to ensure that they will stay with us for a long, long time.