When to Fertilize Azaleas? Find The Best Gardening Tips and Tricks Here!

by Gabby

I remember when I was little and I used to visit my grandparents, their garden always smelled like magic in the spring. I really used to think my grandmother had some secret powers and she made flowers grow. I still think that to this day… This woman is a true fairy when it comes to gardening. However, we are not here to talk about her. One of the plants that I saw really often and stood out was the azaleas. That is why today I am going to tell you more about them. When to fertilize azaleas? Let’s find out more about it!

What is the Azalea plant?

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Azaleas are these beautiful perennial flowers that usually bloom from March to June depending on the specific kind. If you choose to grow them this year, your garden will for sure look dreamy. Depending on the variety then can be fragrant, which is also a plus. The flower colors range from pinks and purples to reds, oranges, and yellows, and there are many of cultivars to pick from. Azaleas thrive in pots but do best in a shaded bed or woodland border in the garden. A few azaleas, also referred to as greenhouse azaleas, can be grown indoors.

What is the difference between Azalea and Rhododendrons?

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Azaleas and rhododendrons are both members of the rhododendron family. Azaleas are a subgroup of the genus Rhododendron, which is a genus (group) of plants with shared traits, rather than a separate genus. While there isn’t a clear-cut way to tell azaleas from rhododendrons apart, each has unique qualities and traits that are crucial to know when selecting the perfect plant for your garden.

Rhododendrons often grow to be larger plants with fewer robust stems, whereas azaleas are small to medium-sized shrubs with numerous smaller stems. Rhododendrons are more grandiose in every way than azaleas, with larger flowers and leaves. The exception is dwarf alpine rhododendrons, which are significantly smaller and reach heights of 20 to 80 cm after 10 years, making them an excellent choice for clustering in a rock garden.

The Rhododendrons are evergreen plants, while azaleas are deciduous and they shed their leafs every fall. The only exception are the Japanese Azaleas, since they are considered also evergreen.

When to fertilize Azaleas?

Why is it important to know how to fertilize azaleas? That is because they grow in acidic soils. They favor a pH range of 4.5 to 6.0 in the soil. Fertilizers are occasionally required in order for the shrubs to produce an abundance of flower buds and healthy green leaves. This is mostly done in order to maintain the acidic soil pH levels, but it is also done to feed the shrubs with nutrients. Yet, compared to others, azaleas have very modest nutritional requirements. They have limited access to the iron, phosphorus, and other soil-based nutrients that are essential for their green leaves and lovely blossoms.

Now it is time to answer the big question! When to fertilize? Azalea fertilization is best performed in the early spring, right before the first blossoms. Actually you can fertilize azaleas is any time between early spring and mid-summer. Fertilizer is most effectively absorbed into medium to high water content in the soil. If you know it is going to rain, apply the fertilizer. If not, water the azaleas with a hose after application.

There’s another option for the azaleas, which is not that used in the gardening world. You can apply the fertilizer in the winter time, since the acidifying of the soil is your main goal, this is especially helpful. The application in cold weather, indicates that the pH decrease takes place somewhere in the spring or early summer, because sulfur-based soil acidifiers require more time to work effectively.

Remember, you should do a PH test for the soil where you are planning to plant the Azaleas. If you already have them in your garden, check the signs for under fertilization. Keep an eye for dark leafs especially in the center, smaller leafs, or early leaf drop. These things can happen if you over use the fertilizer as well, so try to be very careful with that and make sure to investigate the issue correctly.

When to fertilize Azaleas in Georgia?

If you are living in Georgia, Azaleas should be fertilized once they finish blooming. That means that you should apply soil acidifier if needed. In Georgia weather can be very unpredictable, so my advice to you is to follow instructions on the labels on the product that you are using and always make sure to do a PH level test for the soil. Over-fertilizing can do a lot of damage as well.

And if you want to grow your garden more this year, check out the guide to garden bulbs for beginners.

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