How to: care for azaleas
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Azaleas bring in spring with a blaze of glory.
We love them in hot pinks and bold magentas, in pale pastels and in pure clean white.
But in warm subtropical areas these are not set-and-forget plants. To get the most from them gardeners need to pay attention and provide some nurture. Here’s how.
Start with the plant in a position it will love. Azaleas can be grown in the ground or in pots. Either way, offer protection from hot midday summer sun and choose a spot or pot with good drainage: azaleas hate wet feet. If grown in-ground, enrich the soil with plenty of compost; if in pots, always use a good quality azalea/camellia potting mix. Azaleas are surface-rooted so don’t plant too deep but do top the roots with a good layer of mulch.
Azaleas are light feeders, so take care not to apply too large a dose at any one time. That said, the plants respond brilliantly to a good feeding schedule. Apply a complete azalea/camellia fertiliser, such as Kahoona, in early spring. From September to March use a high-nitrogen liquid feed, such as Aquasol, once a month to promote growth.
Top up mulch over shallow roots to keep moisture in the soil.
Petal blight is a fungus that causes flowers to become brown and soggy. Treat with Zaleton as soon as buds appear and throughout the flowering period.
Photo - Hannamariah/Shutterstock.com