Sooner or later, almost every Texan tries to grow azaleas. Azaleas are best suited for an informal garden that has partial shade. This can be a woodland area that receives filtered sunlight through deciduous trees (oaks and hickories) or through pine trees. In fact, azaleas do exceptionally well when planted in groups or masses in an area with a pine canopy. Azaleas grow well at the edge of heavily wooded areas or in partial shade such as that found on the north side of a house or hedge planting. The time for azaleas to put on their show is February through March. But there are varieties such as Encore, that can bloom two or three other times throughout the year. Make sure your azaleas get adequate water during their growing season. They need the equivalent of an inch of rain every 7-10 days. However, do not allow your azaleas roots to sit in wet soil. To help conserve moisture, put a nice layer of mulch over the soil around your azaleas. Azaleas do best in acidic soil. To help maintain an acid soil, add liberal amounts of pine needles, leaf mulch, old sawdust or compost to the soil. It’s important to have a pH meter when growing acid-loving plants like azaleas in the Houston area. The pH needs to be close to 6.0 on the meter.
Azaleas Care Schedule
Here are the basics for Azalea Care in Houston: (This schedule also works for gardenias, camellias and hydrangeas ... just remember they all have different blooming seasons — azaleas: March/April; gardenia: June/July; camellias: February/March; hydrangeas: May/June) Also remember that even if you have "repeat-bloomers" such as Encore, you still need to follow the care schedule below following the spring bloom cycle.
- Always feed immediately after blooming cycle.
- Feed again 6 weeks later.
- Feed again 6 weeks later, but this time with Systemic Azalea food with Disyston.
- Use any number of Azalea/Gardenia/Camellia Foods on market
- Test pH at least three times per year.
- Keep acidity of acid-loving plants close to 6.0 (6.5 to 5.6 is the range).
- Trim immediately after blooming season.
- Try to trim no more than 1/3 of entire plant.