Are Azaleas easy to grow?

It's hard not to be tempted when faced with a garden centre full of flowering Azaleas. Of course it would lovely to have one or more in your own garden, and why wouldn't you want them? Evergreen, hardy and resistant to most plant nasties found in the UK, surely they are a perfect package? The trouble is this, they look a little exotic, and maybe that means they are a bit too-good-to-be-true? So the question is this, are Azaleas easy to grow?

Well the good news is that on the whole they are, assuming they have been given favorable growing conditions. Luckily there are just three things you need to know - root environment, watering and sunlight.


This is quite simple, position small leaved, alpine-like Azaleas in full sun. Place the large leaved varieties in partial shade away from first-thing-in-the-morning sun and full-strength midday sun.


Azaleas like a moist but well drained loam or sandy soil. Avoid areas which become waterlogged, especially during cold winters, and those which dry out over the summer. If you do experience extended periods of drought, make sure you water your Azaleas. At the base that is, I don't want to see water sprayed over blooms and foliage during hot weather.

Root environment

This is arguably the most important aspect to growing Azaleas successfully. Azaleas are within the ericaceae family and as such are known for tolerating acidic soils. They are so good in fact at tolerating acidic soils that they struggle to maintain any semblance of condition in alkaline soils. In fact they can easily become chlorotic and stunted in a pH over 6.5. With this in mind you will need to plant into acidic soil conditions, preferably within the 5.5-6.5 range. Don't worry if your garden soil is alkaline that there are remedies which can be actioned to rectify this. The easiest is to grow your Azalea in a contain filled with ericaceous compost. Avoid concrete containers as the lime within will leach out and increase the alkalinity around the root environment. When growing in the ground, again you can dig a large hole and fill with ericaceous compost.

Alternatively you can acidify the soil by digging in naturally acidic moss peat or by applying flowers of sulphur.

Main image credit - Famartin - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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