‘Azaleas’ are often referred to as the ‘Royalty of the Garden’, and usually bloom from autumn to spring, depending on the variety. Few landscape shrubs are as widely celebrated and anticipated in the spring garden as azaleas.
So what’s so special about azaleas? The answer is simple. They are the epitome of spring. A specimen in full bloom has no equal in the spring landscape. When viewed in the garden, they are drop-dead gorgeous in all their various forms and colors. A single specimen is enchanting when viewed close up. A grouping of them viewed at a distance or encountered in a woodland setting is nothing short of glorious. Their showy, exuberant displays of color excite the senses and have a way of taking center stage in just about any landscape. If you have ever watched the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The billowing masses of colorful, mature azaleas in the background clearly competed with the golfers for the viewer’s attention.
These plants are admired and revered in many countries and across many cultures. In the United States and in Asia, countless azalea festivals are timed to occur when the shrubs are at their showiest. At least two major horticultural societies are devoted to this family of plants. Just about every public botanical garden this side of the Mississippi and even beyond has an azalea collection.
Azalea Planting Tips Location – choose a site sloping to the north or to the east in order to protect the plant from drying south or west winds.
Soil — Azaleas thrive best in moist but well-drained soil that is acidic and rich in organic matter. They tend to have very delicate, shallow root systems will struggle in planted in an area with heavy clay. Dig the planting hole at least twice the width of the root ball but no deeper than the root ball. Position the plant either at the same depth as it was in the container or one-to-two inches higher than the surrounding soil.
Drainage – Good drainage is vital to the health of these plants. Since this is particularly important for shallow-rooted plants, it is best to amend heavy clay with good quality, loamy topsoil throughout the entire planting site.
Mulch – Two-to-three inches of mulch will keep the root ball cool and moist. Just make sure the mulch is pulled away from the main stem by at least a couple of inches. Replace or replenish mulch in the fall before a hard freeze.