After the drudgery of a long winter season, perk up your spirits with a gorgeous azalea shrub. They’re bursting with colour and are really easy to maintain.
Azalea shrubs are hardy in Zones 4 to 6, depending on the variety, which make them easy to plant in cool or tough conditions. They can also range in size from a modest 60 centimetres to a staggering six metres, so be sure to read their information tags carefully before taking one home.
Breathtaking colour and size
They’re one of the most striking and vividly colourful shrubs available, with no shortage of palette options to choose from for spring blossoms. Although you can choose an azalea based on colour alone, a better choice is to narrow things down based on size.
You can select an azalea small enough to fit in pots and flower beds, or one large enough to rival any tree in your yard. If you opt for the latter, make sure you have enough space to accommodate their extensive root system and reach. A good rule of thumb is that as wide as the azalea shrub is, the depth of the roots will match that.
Choose a partially shady, partially sunny spot
Pick a spot in your yard that doesn’t get the bulk of the sun, but one that’s not completely shaded either. Because azaleas are early spring bloomers, they do best in slightly coolish spots where they don’t get the extremes of sun and heat. Too much of either can scorch the plant and leave you starting over. Going in the other direction deprives them of oxygen and while they’ll still grow, they’ll look scraggly and emaciated.
An azalea’s soil needs
They’re a fairly easygoing shrub, but you should still be a little careful of the type of soil it sits in. Azaleas typically do best in rich, moist, well-drained soil, going on a watering schedule of a few times a week. There’s always a risk that too much water can collect, so don’t pile too much soil on top of the roots. Planting a perm of about 30 centimetres in height is a good way of combating soil that doesn’t drain particularly well.
Azaleas also enjoy soil that’s slightly acidic, which can be easily achieved by adding fertilizer, mulch or compost. Adding mulch is also a way to ensure water retention if the soil drains a little too quickly or if you’re not able to water it regularly. When it comes to fertilizer, you only need to do it twice a year: once in late spring and once in early autumn.
Combating diseases and pests
Lace bugs and spider mites are two of an azalea’s top worries, but you can control them with insecticidal soap. You should also keep an eye out for root rot, petal blight and leaf spots. Luckily, these are fairly easy to prevent and you can do so by ensuring proper soil, sun and water conditions. Keeping them well-trimmed throughout the year (start after they’ve gotten their first blooms in the spring) is another way of helping keep pests and diseases at bay.
With just a little bit of practice, you can create a gorgeous array of azaleas in your yard and enjoy them for years to come.