Azaleas and rhododendrons absolutely require an acid soil. Soils along the Central Coas are mainly alkaline. The acidity must be increased before rhododendrons and azaleas will really thrive. Special compost added to the soil will give this result best, such as Master Nursery Azalea, Camellia, Gardenia and Rhododendron Plant Mix.
Mix a liberal quantity of our special compost with the soil in the bed. Soil sold in bulk is usually not satisfactory. Thoroughly soak the soil before mixing with the soil. Dry soil takes moisture from the newly planted material. Use Master Start Starter Fertilizer or Dr. Earth Starter Fertilizer and Root Master B-1 when planting.
When planting, remove the plant from the container and break it up. The top of the ball should be level with the bed. Care should be taken not to get the plant too deep. Flood the bed well with water to settle the soil. Never pack soil about the roots. Be sure to remove all nursery labels and wires.
Where to Plant:
Azaleas and rhododendrons make handsome additions to foundation planting. They do best in our locality when used on north and east exposures. They are also ideal for naturalistic plantings in wooded areas.
Do not plant either azaleas or rhododendrons in a location where they will get an extreme amount of whipping from wind, or, where the summer sun reflects an extreme amount of heat from buildings or pavements. If you are in doubt about the location, consult one of our experts. Azaleas and rhododendrons have a shallow fine root system and are easily damaged by dry spells. Frequent watering during such dry spells is necessary.
Watering in the summer and fall helps prevent winter injury. The flower buds also benefit from this watering as they are formed about this time.
Planting in the fall is ideal. We also recommend mulch laid over the roots and worked in around the base of the plant.
It is important to remember that azaleas and rhododendrons are heavy feeders. Fertilize azaleas and rhododendrons with an acidic loving fertilizer such as Master Nursery Azalea, Camellia, Gardenia and Rhododendron Food during both the spring and fall to ensure strong blooms. Add topdressing of mulch such as Master Nursery Gold Rush each spring and fall.
These are available at McShane’s. Dr. Earth’s Rhododendron, Azalea, & Camellia Fertilizer is also an excellent fertilizer to consider.
Please contact one of the experts here at McShane’s if you have any questions. We are always happy to help.