How To Grow And Propagate Azaleas

Gorgeous Azaleas! A Perennial beauty that bursts into bloom in Spring. A showy but fuss free shrub that’s equally happy in the ground or in containers. Here’s how I grow and care for mine…

Azaleas

A Tough Plant!

The Azalea is a very old girl! She Came to European shores around the 18th Century. But before that the Azalea is said to have first grown 70 Million Years ago! Wowser!!…She has seen it all and weathered it all!

Native to the Far East, Middle East and The Americas, the Azalea is capable of flowering in even the harshest of climates. Equally Happy in The Himalayas or Africa

Azaleas adapt to their surroundings, the rule of thumb is…The colder the region, the smaller the flower. The warmer the climate, the larger the flowers.

Azaleas
Azalea in Bud

Why Azaleas are a gardeners Favourite!

Quite simply…the Azalea loves to put on a good show! Their showy, exuberant displays of cloud like colour are a joy to behold after the darkness of winter. They are one of the first pops of colour in the newly awakened garden, the showstopper of the Spring Flowerbeds!

Azalea Characteristics

Azaleas belong to the rhododendron family, the flowers are funnel-shaped and often fragrant. The Azalea has dark green leaves and has fine hairs that run parallel to the leaf surface. Azaleas can grow to heights of 20ft or more, but can be restricted if grown in a pot.

Azaleas come in a variety of colours, White, purple, pink, red, and orange. Some flowers are even a blend of colours, presenting in stripes, flecks and sectors.

Are Azaleas evergreen?

There are two types of Azaleas. Evergreen Azaleas, (sometimes called Japanese Azaleas) and deciduous Azaleas:

  • Evergreen Azaleas keep their leaves in Winter and can grow upto 80cm in 10 years
  • Deciduous Azaleas can grow upto 150 cm in 10 years but shed their leaves in Autumn

Can You Grow Azaleas in Pots?

You Bet! I grow a Couple of my Azaleas in pots and they are thriving! Here’s why...Azaleas are shallow rooted plants, they dont require a lot of depth.

For example: the roots of evergreen Azaleas have a compact mass of fine feeder roots that spread to only 12 inches deep. Making them a perfect candidate for container growing.

  • The best time to plant Azaleas are in Spring and Autumn
  • Azaleas love a well drained humus-rich, neutral to acidic soil. Choose a good quality ericaceous compost for Azaleas in pots.
  • As with all pot grown plants, the soil does tend to dry out quicker during the warmer months, so water frequently, once or twice a week…but not too much, Azaleas dislike waterlogged soil.
  • Top Tip: Replace the top layer of compost in potted Azaleas every year in early spring 

Where to Plant Azaleas

Azaleas love a sheltered spot. Plant them in partial shade or a woodland border. They grow beautifully in the dappled shade of a tree! My Azaleas grow wonderfully under the shelter of my Apple tree.

When Do Azaleas Bloom?

Azaleas are flowering shrubs, they usually bear their first flowers between March and June, dependant on the variety you’re growing

hOW TO PROPaGATE aZALEAS

Azaleas can be grown from seed, but to propagate particular cultivars it is necessary to propogate via cuttings….

Select the Cutting:

  • Take a semi-ripe heel cutting from the Azalea in mid summer. What is a heel cutting? Heel cuttings are made where a stem is pulled off with a piece of the stem attached. See below for an example.

*Heel cutting example

Plant The Cutting:

  1. Remove all leaves from the bottom third of the cutting, and remove all flower buds.
  2. Dip the stem in a rooting hormone.
  3. Push the cutting one-third into a pot of ericaceous compost.
  4. Cover with a cellophane bag or propagator lid and place on a windowsill with indirect light. Keep the soil moist, but not sodden.
  5. After two months the Azalea stem cuttings should have grown roots. To check for root growth, gently tug on the cutting, if you feel resistance you can remove the cellophane bag . *Sometimes it takes longer than 2 months try to be patient.
  6. Once a good root system has developed , pot on into a larger container and start slowly exposing the cutting to outdoor conditions. before planting out in to a partially shaded spot

Should You Prune Azaleas?

Here’s the good news! Azaleas dont need a great deal of pruning. I simply dead head when the flowers are spent and remove any dead or damaged wood as needed.

However, should your Azalea become too big for its space, a hard prune may be necessary. Cut Back at the end of your plants’ bloom cycle when the current blooms fade. 

Azaleas

Warning! Azaleas and your Pets

Its very unlikely that your furry friends will snack on your Azaleas! However, you should be aware that all parts of Azaleas are toxic and once consumed can cause Nausea, difficulty breathing and may be even fatal if eaten in large quantities.

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