Where do azaleas grow best?

Although promoted in many texts and garden centres as their own genus, Azaleas are in fact are Rhododendrons. That being said they are generally listed as the subspecies Azaleastrum. Of course while there are clear similarities, there are indeed differences such as stamen numbers, bud prominence and foliage size and structure. However when it comes to the growing conditions required within the garden environment they are very much the same. So where do azaleas grow best?

Being held within the genus Rhododendron, Azaleas are amember for the Ericaceae family which is known for its tolerance of acidic soils. Azaleas are no different and so when planting azalea in the garden you will need to provide a soil pH preferably between roughly 4.5–5.5, although they will tolerate between 5.0 and 6.0. If soil soil is not naturally acidic don't worry there are things that you can do to ameliorate this. The easiest is to dig a large hole and back fill it with ericaceous compost before planting your azalea. Alternatively you can dig naturally acidic moss peat into the soil or chemically alter it by apply flowers of sulphur. If you are intending to grow azaleas in pot the the solution is simple. When choosing which compost to use, you will need ericaceous, preferably one mixed with John innes compost. Just one more thing here with regards to container choice, avoid concrete pots as the lime within them will increase the alkalinity of your compost over time.

Assuming your soil is fine regarding acidity then choose a regularly moist position and dig in plenty of organic matter such as leaf mold and sterilized, blended, well-rotted farm manure. One thing you need to be aware of with, and not just for Azaleas but also Rhododendrons and Camellias, is to place them away from morning and full midday position so that their early flowers do not get frosted by a sudden thaw caused by sun.

Regarding light, Azaleas will perform best in partial shade and out of direct sun during the hottest part of the day. That being said, in the north of England they will be fine in full sun.

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