Azalea Plant Care: 101 Beginner’s Guide + Common Problems to Avoid

Few indoor plants can match an Azalea indica in full bloom as a specimen plant. The Azalea flower can range in color from pure white to dull red, is found at the end of the branches, and have short, coarse, oval-shaped leaves. Additionally, there are beautiful color variations, such as double pink flowers. 

Most of the better plants are created and grown in Belgium before being sold worldwide. Azaleas thrive as flowering shrubs in temperate climate gardens, but they can grow nicely in containers indoors or outside.

This article will give you the foundation for proper Azalea plant care. Let’s dig into it!

Varieties

A. indica: Has the broadest range of color variants and is the most common Azalea. However, A. indica requires humidity and must be sprayed with distilled water daily.

A. obtusum: This Japanese variety of plants can only begin to bloom naturally in late winter, making it more difficult to push it to bloom than A. indica. However, its transparent, pink blossoms make it an excellent potted plant. After indoor flowering, it may be planted in the garden, whereas A. Indica needs to be carefully protected from cold.

Perfecto Mundo®: Dr. Tom Ranney, a noted plant breeder from NCSU, is the creator of this ground-breaking series. 

Perfecto Mundo® (Rhododendron x) is a tidy, rounded Azalea shrub that blooms in the spring when other azaleas do and then resumes after a little break blooming in the middle of summer and does so until the first frost in late summer to early fall. Available from Proven Winners plant breeder.

Ideal Growing Conditions For Proper Azalea Care

pink blooming azalea in a pot
The pot should feel heavy and moist when lifted, and it should stay that way for the duration of the plant’s life.

Planting Azalea bushes can be a fantastic addition to any garden design. Although, these plants can be picky about water, sun, and soil conditions.

Light & Location (Avoid full sun)

Azaleas may be cultivated inside and outdoors, but they require a bright area protected from the hot afternoon sun. Some outdoor heirloom varieties can grow up to 20 feet tall, whereas other dwarf varieties only reach 3 feet tall.

In addition, azaleas must be taken inside if there is a risk of frost. Azaleas should be planted outside in the summer to survive from one year to the next.

When to plant: Spring and fall are the optimum times for planting azaleas in most places. This may be done in the summer in cooler regions and in the winter in hot climates.

Preferred Temperature

Azaleas enjoy cool temperatures between 50 and 59 degrees Fahrenheit (10 and 15 degrees Celsius), ensuring that the plants continue to bloom profusely.

Water Requirements

Azaleas require a lot of distilled water during bloom, which should be provided every two days. Never allow a plant to become dry; check on it at least twice every week. If the soil is dry, submerge it in a pail of lukewarm water until moisture beads develop on the topsoil.

Fertilizer

Regular applications of a weak liquid fertilizer can assist in maintaining lush green foliage while avoiding hefty applications. Every two weeks, when in bloom, fertilizer should be added to the water.

Soil (Acidloving Plants)

Azalea potting soil that has been commercially prepared (available at your local garden center) should be used for planting in the spring. Place the plant in a shaded area and tightly pack potting soil around the root ball.

These plants prefer a slightly acidic soil pH (4-6pH is ideal). If the soil you’re planting Azalea in has a higher pH than 6, you can try adding peat moss or pine needles to make the soil more acidic.

Since you’ll often be watering to keep up moisture, you’ll want to ensure to have welldrained soil to prevent root rot.

Azalea Plant Care During The Seasons

azalea shrubs in garden next to rain chain
Placing Azalea shrubs next to a rain chain can help provide additional water needed.

Related Article: Rain chains: What They Are + How to Make One

Neglect, especially failing to provide the plants with enough water, poses a much more significant threat than pests and disease. The roots of the Azalea must always be kept moist during the whole growth process, indoors or outside. 

The plants can be transferred out in the late spring. Put the pots in a shaded area submerged to the rims on a bed of moist peat. Before the first frost, bring the plants inside. Pruning should be avoided since it will lead to fewer blooms the following year.

Common Problems to Avoid

Azaleas are less susceptible to pests and diseases than other plants, making them easier to maintain. However, there are indicators of poor health to keep an eye on. 

The leaves wither and fall if the air is too dry and hot. You’ll need to spray distilled water on the plant, then relocate it to a cooler area. 

The plant is wet or in a draft when buds don’t open. Either relocate it or water it less regularly.

Aphids: These could gather on tender young leaves, but they are simple to spot and get rid of with a soapy spray. Remember that these sprays only work on adults, so you must reapply them three or four days later.

Azalea Lace Bugs: The most common insect pest in the landscape is the azalea lace bug, Stephanitis pyrioides. They are known as “lace” bugs because of their wings’ appearance.

These bugs are usually 1/16″ in width and 1/8″ long with brown and black wings. 

You’ll recognize the damage done by these buggers by bleached and faded leaves with yellow, silver, or white spots.

Ensure optimal growing conditions to give your Azalea the best chance to fight off these pests. The more stress a plant has, the more susceptible it is to lace bugs. 

Bug eggs hatch in the spring, so it’s ideal to spray them in early spring before hatching to lessen their numbers. You can use insecticides, white oil, or neem oil.

Dehydration: All year long, azaleas require a lot of water. f they do not get adequate nutrition, the plant may develop yellowing wilting foliage.

Watering an azalea is best accomplished by immersing the pot in a pail of lukewarm, soft water. Once no more bubbles come out of the potting soil, the plant is left to drain.

Companion Plants 

When looking for companion plants for your garden, remember the time frame when Azaleas bloom during the growing season. Here are some plants to give you some design ideas:

  • Barberry (Berberis buxifolia)
  • Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis)
  • Spotted dead nettle (Lamium maculatum)
  • Holly (Ardisia crenata)
  • Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)
  • Plantain lily (Hosta)
  • Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
  • Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) 

Frequently Asked Questions

What side of the house is the best to plant azaleas?

Typically, the east side of your home is best location to grow Azalea since they prefer cool, shady / partial sun locations. 

References + Resources

Azalea lace bug; entnemdept.ufl.edu: link

American Society of Azalea’s – PDF