Azalea Care & Maintenance
Click one of the section headings below to read more about Azalea care & maintenance.
Forever & Ever Azalea FAQ’s
When can I transplant azaleas?
The goal when transplanting is to minimize the stress on the plant being moved. Stress is caused by leaving some of the roots behind. If possible, transplant azaleas in early fall or early spring when the weather is relatively cool, or in the winter unless the soil is frozen or soggy. If you must transplant in warm weather, choose an overcast day, or a day or so after it has rained (which cools the soil), or earlier or later in the day.
How do I transplant azaleas?
Small azaleas can be transplanted with little stress by moving a very large root ball relative to the size of the plant. That ensures that you are moving most of the roots. For large azaleas, which generally are rather shallow-rooted, dig wide rather than deep to get as many roots as possible. Dig a trench up to 12 inches deep around the dripline. Then undercut the plant to form a cone, and start removing some of the soil an inch or so at a time, moving all around the plant, until you begin to see that you are removing roots.
What should I use to mulch my azaleas?
Use shredded leaves, leaf mold, pine needles or pine bark mulch. Don’t use shredded hardwood mulch, since it often raises soil pH. Pine bark is especially useful since it can lower the pH, but it is best used on relatively flat ground since it is lightweight and tends to float away in heavy rain.
Should I amend the soil at the time of planting?
You only need to amend the soil if it is devoid of organic matter or if the pH is too high. Have a soil test done by your local extension service or garden center to determine if something needs to be added. A light amount of well-decayed organic matter dug into the top layer of soil is helpful for retaining moisture and preventing compaction.
When should I fertilize my azaleas?
Established azaleas often do well with no fertilizer at all. Nutrients are slowly released by any organic mulch that you use. Excess nutrients might promote larger-than-normal populations of azalea pests like lace bugs and azalea whiteflies. If your azalea foliage loses its deep green color, test your soil to make sure that the pH is not too high.
What fertilizer should I use?
If a soil test reveals that nutrients are low, fertilize azaleas in the spring or fall. Use a granular, slow-release fertilizer that is acid-forming and apply a very light scattering around the edge of the root zone of the plant. Never apply more than a few tablespoons at any one time; excess fertilizer can easily burn the delicate roots of azaleas since they are so close to the soil surface. Scorched leaf margins often result from overfertilization.
Why isn’t my azalea blooming?
Too much nitrogen in early summer can encourage vegetative growth at the expense of flower bud formation, so limit fertilizer applications to the fall or spring. Although azaleas are well adapted to partial shade, deep shade produces spindly, weak growth and few flower buds. Azaleas usually won’t flower well if planted under trees with dense foliage. Flower buds can also be damaged by cold, dry winds, particularly when warm winter weather is followed by a period of bitter cold.
My azaleas always turn yellow or purple in winter. What’s wrong?
Nothing. Like all evergreen plants, azaleas periodically lose some of their foliage, and the leaves may turn yellow, red or purple before they fall.
Top 10 Reasons To Love Forever & Ever Azaleas
No shrub is any showier than Forever & Ever Azaleas. But a beautiful floral display is only part of their charm.
10. Early color. A mass planting of Forever & Ever Azaleas will electrify your early spring landscape.
9. Easy to grow. Our azaleas love full sun, with light afternoon shade in warmer climates. They are pest-resistant, forgiving and easy-to-grow plants that enhance any landscape setting, including yours.
8. An interesting history. Azalea cultivars have been adored for years and are well adapted to the art of bonsai. Many very old specimens can be found in collections around the world.
7. Beautiful companions. Take advantage of azaleas’ special cultural requirements to complement them with other compatible plants like camellias, dogwoods and Japanese maples.
6. Brighten the shade. The challenge of a shady area is no problem for Forever & Ever Azaleas. They’ll thrive with morning sun and protection from the hot afternoon sun. Insert them into shaded edges of large canopy shade trees or against the trunks of tree groves.
5. Versatility. Forever & Ever Azaleas are useful as screens, hedges or showy landscape accents. Smaller varieties work well in containers.
4. Go exotic. Forever & Ever Azaleas are naturals in Asian-inspired gardens, particularly for the Japanese tea style.
3. Colorful problem-solvers. The dense growth of these azaleas is ideal for cover-ups, along fences, footings and the edges of outdoor steps. It makes them perfect for filling in beds and for under edges of large conifer drip lines.
2. Long-lasting beauty. Forever & Ever Azaleas provide show-stopping color over a much longer bloom season than other azaleas. From spring through fall, enjoy bountiful beauty in a variety of brilliant hues to make your garden shine.
And the No. 1 reason to love Forever & Ever Azaleas?
1. All of the above!
Common Azalea Problems
Azaleas are relatively pest- and disease-free, though deficiencies in soil pH, over watering, poor drainage and sun scorching the common problems. Proper placement of your plants, with appropriate soil amendments and mulch, will alleviate most of these issues before they become problems.
Damage: The center portion of the leaf turns to tan or off-white.
Prevention and treatment: Most azaleas thrive in areas with filtered shade, not full sun. Move the injured plant to a shady location, or provide some shade in its current location. Sunburned leaves will not recover; remove the affected leaves as practical. Keep plants well-watered, especially during hot weather.
Problem: Azalea lace bug
Damage: Foliage looks white, and brown insects can be seen underneath the leaves.
Prevention and treatment: This insect hatches early in spring as the new foliage begins to mature and its numbers may build to damaging levels with successive generations. Lace bugs reach their peak in late summer and do their worst in sunny, exposed sites. To help prevent lace bug infestations, plant azaleas in shady areas. Insecticidal soap, horticultural oil or a systemic insecticide labeled for use on azaleas can spare your azaleas the damage if applied in spring when the first hatchlings are noticed.
Problem: Black vine weevil
Damage: Leaves are notched and plants are growing poorly, yet there are no visible pests.
Prevention and treatment: The black vine weevil is a small nocturnal weevil the larvae of which feeds on azalea and rhododendron roots. Black vine weevils can’t fly, so they don’t spread rapidly. They spread most commonly in container plants, and a few larvae in a single pot might start an infestation that can damage dozens of plants in your garden. A pesticide containing imidacloprid might help.
Problem: Powdery Mildew
Signs: The earliest sign of powdery mildew is the presence of small circular white patches with feathery edges randomly scattered across the lower surfaces of one or more leaves. Yellow or purple blotches might also appear, particularly on the upper leaf surface.
Damage: Under ideal conditions, patches will rapidly increase in size until the surfaces of the leaves and tender shoots are covered with the white, cottony fungal growth. The foliage of heavily diseased plants is often stunted and off-color.
Prevention and treatment: Powdery mildew is usually worse in shady sites and when the relative humidity approaches 95 percent, powdery mildew often affects plants that are under stress. Regular feeding, mulching and watering will reduce the likelihood of mildew attacks. Good air circulation around the plant is also helpful. Ask your local garden center for a fungicide for use on powdery mildew on azaleas.
Problem: Nutrient Shortage
Damage: Yellowing or pale green leaves that remain small. Slow growth.
Prevention and treatment: Apply a fertilizer specially labeled for azaleas, according to label instructions. Azaleas require rich, well-drained, acidic soil (pH of 4.5 to 6.0). If leaves turn pale but leaf veins appear normal, supplemental iron might be needed.
Forever & Ever Azalea Planting Directions
Select the Site
Our azaleas thrive in areas with morning sun and light afternoon shade. While more sun typically produces more compact plants with more blooms, the blooms will not last as long. As they need slightly acidic soil, the best planting locations are usually under oak, pine and holly trees.
No azalea likes to have wet feet, so choose areas with good drainage. You can increase drainage by planting azaleas with the tops of their root balls a few inches above ground level and mounding the soil up to the plants. This is particularly important with heavy clay soil.
Plant your azalea in early spring or early fall.
Prepare the Plant and Site
Amend the soil if it is devoid of organic matter or if the pH is too high (too alkaline). Have a soil test done by your local extension service or garden center to determine if something needs to be added. A light amount of well-decayed organic matter dug into the top layer of soil is helpful for retaining moisture and preventing compaction.
If the plant is wilting by the time you get it home from the garden center, soak it in a tub of water for a few minutes, or water it slowly and thoroughly with a hose before planting it.
If the plant is in a container, remove it by turning the container upside down and lifting it off the plant. With a sharp knife, cut any visible roots that are wrapped around the rootball by making slits about a half-inch deep from the top to the bottom of the rootball, about every two or three inches around the rootball. Cut any matted roots off the bottom of the rootball.
Dig a hole at least a few inches wider than the rootball and just as deep as the rootball, and plant the top of the rootball even with the top of the soil (or a few inches above ground level if you need to improve drainage in heavy soils). Avoid disturbing the soil at the bottom of the hole. If it is disturbed or soil must be returned to the hole, tamp it firm before planting. The goal is to avoid the azalea from sinking more deeply as the soil settles.
Put the root ball into the hole, and rotate and tip the plant to its best appearance. Add soil to fill the space under and around the root ball, tamping it firmly with your fingers, and continue until the fill soil is at the same level as the top of the root ball and the surrounding soil. Avoid any airspaces without compacting it so much that water will not enter.
Mulch the plant with two to four inches of shredded leaves, leaf mold, pine needles or pine bark mulch. Don’t use shredded hardwood mulch, since it often raises soil pH. Pine bark is especially useful since it can lower the pH, but it is best used on relatively flat ground since it is lightweight and tends to float away in heavy rain.
Water slowly and thoroughly immediately after planting, the next day and at least once a week for several weeks. This will help settle the soil and remove any air spaces, and will make sure the disturbed roots have ready access to water until they can grow into the surrounding soil. Watch plants closely during the first growing season, watering them deeply whenever they look wilted.
Forever & Ever Azalea Maintenance Instructions
Forever & Ever Azaleas require very little pruning to retain good form. Light pruning of more established plants will stimulate growth and flowering. Use hand trimmers to selectively shape your plants.
Prune azaleas immediately after bloom, usually early summer. Although you’ll be cutting off that year’s blooms, it gives the plant the full growing season to fill out and time for the new growth to mature before winter. Since most azaleas start growing next year’s flower buds soon after they bloom, pruning after midsummer cuts off next year’s bloom. Late pruning also runs the risk of the tender new growth being killed in cold climates.
Remove individual branches back to the spot where they join a larger branch. Avoid shearing azaleas; shearing results in unhealthy, twiggy growth. Old azaleas that have grown too large for their space in your garden can be brought down in size by cutting the large branches back severely. New growth will spring from the stubs that are left.
General Azalea Care
As needed, a fungicidal spray in the spring as the buds show color will control petal blight, a fungal disease that appears as discolored dots on the petals and quickly discolors and collapses the blossoms.
Established azaleas require little or no fertilizer. Having organic matter in the soil and maintaining an organic mulch around azaleas are more important than applying chemical fertilizers. Decomposition of the mulch normally provides the nutrients needed for the good health of the azaleas.