azaleasAzaleas are beautiful and easy to grow.  Azalea is a typical native deciduous species. During spring season azaleas need special care. Plant azaleas in early spring as the new roots need time to develop before summer heat and drought.

Transplanted azaleas should be kept well watered. Azaleas grow best in dappled or part shade.  Too much sun results in shorter bloom time.

Azaleas plants require acidic soil with a pH of 4.5-6.0. The soil should be loose, well drained and contain plenty of organic material. You must plant the root ball higher than ground level.

Azaleas have a shallow root system that spreads within the top 12 inches of soil therefore protecting the roots with organic mulch would be better. There wouldn’t be much need of fertilizer as it could burn shallow roots.

If you observe yellowing leaves with green veins and stunted growth then it is an indicator of nutrient deficiency. If a soil test is always recommended and you may apply a scant amount of slow release fertilizer for acid loving plants.

Timely pruning is equally essential and you should do it when azaleas have finished flowering before mid- June. If you prune after that you reduce next year’s blooms. Cut leggy stems back to the place where they meet a larger branch.

Azalea lace bugs can be a problem – their population continues to increase if they are untreated. Look for small black specs on the underside of leaves. Their sucking sap causes a stippled effect on the surface of leaves turning them from green to grayish. Lace bugs overwinter on plants as eggs. Spray plants thoroughly with horticultural or control lace bugs chemically with Sevin, malathion, cyfluthrin and imidacloprid products. Follow label instructions.

Red spider mites start on the underside of leaves. They look like tiny specs. Look for fine webbing on leaves to help identify the pests. Horticultural oil will help control the numbers, but a chemical miticide will be more effective. Azalea caterpillars are small. They grow from about 1/2-inch to 2 inches long beginning brownish black with yellow and white stripes. They mature black with yellow and white stripes and a red head. Typically they feed in groups and devour leaves quickly. Look for the caterpillars during August and September. Use Bacillus thuringiensis, horticultural oil, malathion, Sevin, or cyfluthrin products to control them.

Check the bark on plants, especially crotch areas, for azalea bark scale. Scale insects are damaging because they suck the sap out of plants. Scrape off scale insects as possible. Use horticultural oil to kill adults and eggs.

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