Azaleas are beloved for their delightfully bright and long-lasting flowers. They make a dazzling appearance in the spring garden, but some varieties bloom in early summer and early fall.
With the right method and large enough garden, you would be able to enjoy their beauty for 8 months!
In this post, I have described how to grow and care for azaleas flowers indoors as well as outdoors. After reading this guide, you would be able to get a proper plan to handle them.
So, let’s dive into:
Caution: This plant is highly toxic, do not consider them if you have kids and pets in your house. The ingestion of any part of the plant or even azalea honey can cause life-threatening symptoms.
Best variety to grow
Depending upon their varieties and cultivar some of the azaleas are attractively fragrant, smell spicy or sweet, fruit aroma and foliage produce pretty color as well.
These shrubs are available with over 1000 registered cultivars of different colors, shapes, and sizes.
source: Matthew McLaughlin
f we talk about their origin, they belong to the “Rhododendron” genus and are members of the heath family (Ericaceae).
Sometimes they are classified into two groups “Pentanthera” and “Tsutsui”, other times they are all two main groups that combine and make up the “Rhododendron” genus.
For home gardeners, the only thing to remember is that they fall into two groups: deciduous and evergreen.
Most Evergreens are native to Japan, but some are also related to countries like China, Korea, and Japan.
Evergreens are typically hybrid made to grow in home gardens, developed for improved qualities such resistance, flowering time, cold or winter tolerance.
You can see many species in gardens or roadside, North America species such as Florida flame (R. Austrinus) and pink shell (R.vaseyi). Other species are used for breeding purposes.
Plants are usually categorized based on their bloom time, which may be early, midseason, and late.
The early bloomers are typically flowers from late winter through early spring. Midseason types bloom in late spring and late group flowers throughout fall.
Planting an assortment of different species in your garden is the best to enjoy their floral display for the entire growing season.
How to Propagate Azaleas
Most of the azaleas you found are developed cultivars or hybrids, growing them from seeds is practically not possible. As these cultivars are bred between different varieties, growing from their seeds will rarely produce true or look similar to their parent plant.
source: Matthew McLaughlin
The only way to propagate azaleas to get clones of the parent plant is to propagate vegetatively, by stem cutting or stem layering. Evergreens usually give the best results with stem cuttings, while deciduous varieties with stem layering.
Here I have described both methods in detail, pick the one which you find more compatible to work.
From stem cuttings
- Take a stem cutting about 5-6 inches in height, it should be semi-hardwood cutting. The stem should be flexible, something between soft tender new shoots and mature wood.
- Snip off all the leaves from the lower half of the stem cutting to get new roots from the bottom tip.
- Take a shear or shape knife, cut the bottom tip of the stem to get fresh white tissue. Keep cutting till white-green color gets visible, tissue having any dark spot may not grow properly.
- Dip the bottom tip to powdered root hormone and shade shake to remove excess. This is totally an option, stems also grow without root hormone, but it will definitely boost their growth rate.
- If you’re a beginner, instead of sowing directly in the garden plant azaleas first in small pots, you will be easily able to care for them. Once they grow some inches, transplant them into a large pot or garden.
- The pot must have sufficient drainage holes, so that water does not get collected in the pot.
- Use rich soil which is ideally a combination of one-third compost, one-third peat moss or vermiculite, or one-third sand. Make the stem cutting stand in the soil, do not sow them too deep.
- If you plant in normal ground soil it may not grow well, the native ground soil does not have the necessary nutrients and minerals that help in plant growth.
- Place the pot in a sheltered spot in the garden with bright and indirect light. Do not place it in direct sunlight, the plant roots have not developed yet, they will get damaged.
- When planting water the plant thoroughly till water starts falling from the bottom. They need more water till they get established. Water regularly to keep the soil moist but do not overwater.
- Provide winter protection mulch of pine needles or straw or a cloche around the base to protect from frost as needed.
- Roots form in four to eight weeks after planting. Transplant it once the plant gets 5-6 inches in height. Do not try to transplant earlier, its tender new shoots might get damaged.
From stem layering
Layering is the process to encourage root development to the stem which is still attached to the parent plant. The best time to do layering is in early spring before leaves emerge, it also works well in the fall.
The spring-layered plant can be transplanted in the garden in the fall of the same year. But transplanting layered plants either spring and fall layered, after one or two years is better.
Layering allows plants to mature and gain size quickly into familiar environments so that they continue to thrive when transplanted in a new location.
Here is what to do:
- Choose a lower branch stem that is long and flexible to get bent easily and reach the ground without snapping.
- The stem should be in contact with two to three inches of the soil (this is called contact stem). The stem tip should extend six to eight inches from the ground.
- At the point where you want to produce stem contact roots, gently scrape six to eight-inch of the outer bark.
- Apply powdered rooting hormones in the scrape section and remove the excess.
- Prepare a rooting area by digging two to three inches into the trench.
- Put the contact stem in the trench and cover it with the soil.
- Use a landscape pin or place a rock on the top of the buried reaction to ensure it stays in place.
- Roots will start growing after four weeks, if you feel resistant to stem tug of the stem, it is the sign that it has taken root.
Potter azaleas grow well when planted in the spring or fall season. It requires a good amount of light and slightly acidic pH soil which is moist and well-drained.
Here is how to transplant:
- Water thoroughly the plant before transplanting, it’s very difficult to root balls to absorb moisture once it gets into the ground.
- Create hole two-three times wider than the root ball’s size and dip the ground to the same depth of the pot in which the plant is growing.
- Mix plenty of aged compost, leaf mold, or shredded until the soil mix becomes one-third or one-half of organic compost or humus.
- Gently toss out the plant from the pot with the help of a spud and remove every soil possible from the root balls.
- Wash the root balls with water and clear dirt and cut roots that get tied to each other.
- Sow the plant in the hole with the same depth as it was in the pot.
- Water the plant thoroughly to get the root moist and soil well-drained.
- Transplant each plant two to three feet apart depending upon their size.
Did I Miss Anything?
Now I’d like to hear from you: which tip from today’s post are you going to try first?
Or maybe, I didn’t mention your favorite plant growing tip. Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.
Before going if you want to grow beautiful flowers in your garden? Then click on these articles also.