Azaleas take center stage, how to keep them happy

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog azalea salmonI inherited this salmon colored azalea when I moved to this garden. It's my favorite and has never let me down. Photos by Doug Oster

While most gardeners are still waiting to see what will return after the brutal winter, surviving azaleas are putting on a show.

Butterflies and bumblebees can't resist the flowers, which can last for weeks if the weather cooperates.

Azaleas love cool weather and morning sun. They don't always get what they want, but will still churn out the flowers.

This is a great time to fertilize them as they will begin putting buds on quickly after the flowers have dropped.

I use Hollytone exclusively for azaleas, rhododendrons and other woodland, acid loving plants. It's organic, cheap and easy to find.

There's a small window for pruning after the shrub stops blooming. As soon as the flowers are done, that's the only time to prune azaleas. If gardeners wait, the buds will form and pruning them off will remove next years flowers.

When the buds do emerge, they are a favorite of deer, use some kind of deer repellent to keep the shrub safe if you live in deer country like I do.

I often say, "when there's something ugly in the garden, turn the other way and look at something beautiful." With a garden filled with brown ivy and sad rhodies, blooming azaleas provide the boost needed to get us into summer.

blog azalea orangeFro 10 years this shrub was planted in the wrong spot, it was too close to the house. Three seasons ago I moved it in the fall and it has responded beautifully.

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