Azaleas are flowering shrubs that belong to the genus Rhododendron. Grown in various colors ( pink, white, red, mauve)- azaleas bloom during spring and summer in the temperate North. At the same time, December and January make up the blooming season in the Southern Hemisphere.
Azaleas thrive in the shade, preferring to grow near or under larger trees. The flowers last for several weeks and have a distinct fragrance that the perfume industry appreciates.
Azaleas require watchful care and attention with a few thumb rules that you must never break.
Why are my Azaleas dying?
There are several reasons why your azalea plant(s) might be dying. You can fix some of them easily, while others require more complex solutions. Growing and caring for these delicate shrubs is relatively easy, but there are certain factors you must take into consideration when landscaping around it.
The suitable soil, the right sun, and the right compost are three basic postulates one must keep in mind. Remember to remain watchful while identifying any warning signs indicating plant decay or disease.
The following points can help guide you in your quest to take better care of your plants.
Absence Of The right light
It is essential to plant azaleas in the right light. They favor the shade and should ideally be planted in the shadow of an enormous tree or away from direct sunlight. Exposure to too much sun interferes with the natural composition of the leaf and causes rapid wilting. In hotter climes, the sun causes the leaf to burn.
On the flip side, it is also important not to lean in too heavily on the shade. Heavy shade deprives the plant of natural oxygen and leads to stunted growth and poor blooming prowess.
As with most gardening, moderation is key.
Absence Of right amount Soil
Azaleas have shallow roots and thereby require well-drained soil to avoid the possibility of flooding. If the region you are planting in it happens to have poor drainage, make sure to plant your azaleas in raised flower beds to enable the plants to stay above water.
Azaleas favor acidic, well-fertilized soil. Fertilization is not always necessary, except when the soil lacks an adequate quantity of nitrogen- and thereby acquires a nutrient deficiency.
Symptoms of a deficiency are easily discernible- and manifest in the form of stunted growth, discolored leaves, and premature shedding.
Composting is always a wise choice, for it readies the soil to be at an optimum condition before you can perform the plantation.
Trim a growth of weeds as and when you notice them, and mulch the shrubs with composted pine barks. This both serves as a protective cover and a provider of essential nutrients, thereby simultaneously reducing the need for frequent fertilization.
The poor soil quality or content could be one of the reasons why your plant may be dying.
Too much Trimming and Pruning
You probably trimming it too much. Look, trimming is not merely ornamental- it promotes healthy growth and works to improve the quality of flowers. You can trim once the blooming season has expired, i.e., in the dormant phase.
Cutting back the branches of azaleas also helps renew old and overgrown stems- a necessary step to help induce new growth in the plant.
The pruning period can often be hard to get right. It is important to remember to do one’s pruning in the time between two blooming seasons. Azaleas typically bloom at the start of July, so all pruning should ideally be complete before July.
Azaleas, when deprived of watchful care, often fall prey to diseases.
Lace bugs and spider mites are typical examples of pests that can potentially cause harm to azaleas. They slowly eat away at an azalea’s leaves and stems and gradually move on to the main branch and root structure.
Some common diseases are leaf blights, petal spots, leaf gall, and root rot. An absence of good drainage generally causes these. Even though azaleas need moisture, too much of it is never a good thing and leads to disastrous results.
Mulching helps absorb an excess of water in the absence of proper drainage.
A delicate variety of plants, azaleas do not fare well in the cold. Especially vulnerable in early spring, frost/snow is fatal for growth. It initially causes parts of the shrub to wilt, following a rapid spread to other regions of the shrub. The affected parts turn brownish-black and die.
The prevention of frost damage is simple. It is advisable to steer clear of the more delicate varieties in cooler climes. If you sense a chance of snow/sleet/hail, cover the plants with plastic sheets or thick burlap.
An overlooked solution in many situations, transplanting can offer your dying azalea a breath of life.
All azaleas and rhododendrons grow well in light shade. However, this is a generalization that is often proved wrong- certain kinds can grow only in heavy shade, while others prefer the full sun. In the circumstances such as these, all you can do is change the location.
Easily done by a method referred to as transplanting, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Azaleas have shallow roots. As a result, the transplant must never be near another shallow-rooted tree to stave off-level conjunction.
It would be best if you always transplanted when the plant is dormant. It not only simplifies the process but also exerts a much lower degree of stress on the plant.
Last but not least, putting a square of burlap underneath the plant while repotting it helps take care of dislodged, loose soil and provides the plant with a more solid foundation.
Some Extra Tips for Houseplants
It is essential to choose the right azalea if you wish for it to be indoors. Greenhouse azaleas are your best bet that is grown to thrive inside confined spaces.
Keep the plant in reach of light, but ensure that there isn’t too much of it. A temperature window between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit is considered ideal.
Regulating the moisture component is a large part that constitutes the care of azaleas at home. While your usual quota of watering might be seemingly sufficient, indoor plants require the occasional soak in water. Drainage, again, is imperative and should be done with immediacy once you notice that the bubbles are gone.
Let the plant dry in its own time, which allows the soil to soak in the remnant water.
How do I know if my azalea is dying?
There are a few telling signs that can help you determine if your azalea is dying.
The simplest is to check the stem for green. Lightly scrape it with a nail for a sign of green. If you happen to find it, the plant is alive. If not, trim at the parts that are dead to make way for regrowth.
Most deaths are, however, a result of pests or diseases. Some markers include leaves that change color from green to pale yellow to brown, stunted growth, premature shedding, wilted stems, and dieback. Dieback festers in the soil, so replacing the plant does not serve as an effective remedy.
Two common fungal diseases affecting azaleas are Botryosphaeria and Phytophthora.
There is no treatment for these diseases, but liberal use of fungicides can help stem a rapid spread to neighboring plants. You can prevent fungal diseases by the proper implementation of shade and regulation of moisture.
There is no one rule to help you rescue a dying azalea or even identify the correct cause behind the gradual demise.
The article deals with some common causes and their solutions. My advice would be to spend some time on research before you decide to grow azaleas, either out of doors or inside the house.
For, as theoretically simple as the endeavor might sound, it does call for a fair amount of effort and constant vigilance.
The watchwords to live by? Smart care.