Thursday, September 15, 2011

Easy azalea care tips

Azaleas are known for their ability to grow beautifully with little attention. However, if you want the best looking flowers around, then these tips for azalea care will help you get on track!

Azaleas come in all sorts of colours including vivid pinks, violet, orange and golden yellow. Azaleas also respond well to pruning and make excellent hedges or feature bushes. However, to ensure you get the most from your plants, proper azalea care is needed.

These vibrant flowers thrive in the afternoon shade, though now more species of hybrids are available that are able to adapt well to survive in any garden. They prefer to be situated in the mild and humid regions, making them perfect for the backyards of low coastal Australia.

Azalea care doesn’t have to be a complicated matter. Following these few steps for azalea care will get your flowers in full bloom in no time.

Azalea care 101
Azaleas need soil that has good drainage, but still slightly damp. They prefer cool, slightly acidic soil that doesn't become too dry. When the heat sets in, try to water your azaleas once a week or so. However, remember not to over water.

When it comes to azalea care, be aware of their root systems. Roots that have wrapped themselves around the root ball can strangle the plant when it grows.

If this occurs, use an old knife and cut the matted roots away. Make sure to leave most of the roots intact, but spread out, to keep growing.

Make a raised mound for planting when you're ready. This provides the best drainage possible. Dig out the middle, adding some peat moss and a sprinkle of fertiliser. Place your azalea in the middle, fill in the surrounding hole, and mulch.

The best mulch for azalea care is pine needles or pine bark. Apply twice a year to get the best from your plant. A peat moss fertiliser is best applied at the same time as mulching. It's okay to use plenty of compost. It acts as a sponge around the roots, keeping them moist but not too wet.

Pruning and fertilising is best done shortly after their main flowering period from July through to October - although there are some varieties that will flower earlier or later. Pruning gives your azaleas a full growing season to fill out and time to mature before the colder months hit.

Azaleas aren't known to have too many problems with pests or disease. The most common problems are red spider mites and lace bugs (both of which can be controlled easily and do not affect the plant much).

During the wetter months you may discover that some of the azalea flowers have become mushy and brown. This is a process known as petal blight, a fungal disease. Although, it's easiest to pick them off and throw them away, spraying with a fungicide and/or Bordeaux mixture for best azalea care.

Azalea care isn't hard and it's a hugely rewarding process that will allow you to reap the final product of beautiful blooms and vibrant colour in your garden for a long time to come.

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