Azaleas are wonderful shrubs with beautiful flowers that add a punch of color to the landscape in spring. But did you know that you can grow these beautiful plants in containers? If azaleas are not quite hardy in your growing zone, you can grow them in pots outside or indoors with a bit of extra care during the winter. We have the complete guide on how to grow azaleas in pots so you can grow these wonderful plants with confidence.
Plant azalea flowers at the front of an east-facing house for gorgeous curb appeal in spring.
Learn More: The best flowering shrubs for curb appeal.
Growing Potted azaleas
The best time to find potted azaleas is in early spring at your local garden center.
Azalea plants can grow and flower for years in containers (both indoors and outdoors), and we’re going to explain the care required to make that happen. You only need to ensure a few environmental conditions for your azalea to be healthy and happy.
Best pots for Azaleas
It’s a good idea to purchase thick ceramic, terracotta, or clay pot for your azaleas. Azaleas have shallow roots, and those roots will need thick walls to protect them from the heat and sun. A wider azalea pot will also help insulate the azalea in winter.
Avoid planting your azalea in thin plastic pots or keeping the azalea in the original container.
Be sure to pick a suitable size container for your azaleas. The pot should be at least two feet wide and deep, with adequate drainage holes in the pot’s base. Poor drainage can cause root rot.
Plant the azalea at the same depth planted in the nursery container. Planting an azalea too deeply can cause the crown to rot.
suitable Soil for Azaleas in pots
Soil is vitally essential to get right when it comes to azaleas. Unfortunately, you cannot use garden soil and will need to purchase specifically mixed potting soil for azaleas and rhododendrons from your garden centers. Azaleas grow best in an acidic soil blend with good drainage.
Azaleas are acid-loving plants and will not grow well with alkaline soil pH levels.
Potted azalea care
Sunlight: Avoid planting your azaleas in full sun. Azaleas will thrive when exposed to the morning sun. Azaleas will not do well in full shade but will like partial shade with dappled afternoon sun.
Water: Water azalea in planters whenever the top of the soil feels dry. Potted azaleas will dry out very quickly in hot, dry weather, so be sure to check on them daily during the height of summer. Collected rainwater is best for azaleas as tap water can be too alkaline.
Fertilizer: You can feed azaleas with a slow-release fertilizer during the growing season. You can also use ericaceous compost. Ericaceous compost is acidic, with a pH of between four and five. It’s suitable for growing ericaceous plants (acid-loving plants) like blueberries and azaleas.
Transplanting your potted azaleas
You should transplant a new azalea plant into a new pot every year, and older plants can be transplanted every two years.
When the time for repotting comes, you have two choices. You can move your azaleas up to larger pots, or you can prune the roots and pot back into the same containers. This method of root pruning can encourage flowering.
You can continue pruning new growth from the roots and keep your azalea in the same pot for the plant’s life.
Pruning azaleas in pots is no different from pruning them outdoors. You will want to ensure that any weak or dead branches are removed and thin out the center of the plant to allow for air circulation.
Prune in late spring or early summer after the plant has bloomed.
Learn More: How to Prune Azaleas
Protecting your potted azalea in winter
Potted azaleas will require special care during winter:
Check on your container plants often and water as needed, but do not water during freezing weather.
You will also need to protect the plant from freezing temperatures. Plants grown in containers lose some of their hardiness. As a result, containers do not protect the same way the ground would during a winter freeze. But there are some things you can do to protect your potted azalea.
Put the pot into the ground – Digging and planting the pot will give the roots much-needed protection from winter frosts. Adding a thick layer of mulch over the top of the pot will also help protect it. However, be sure the mulch does not contact the stem.
You can also store your azaleas in a non-heated shed or garage where they will not freeze. You can also protect containers with frost blankets or hay bales.
In extreme temperatures, you may want to bring your potted azalea indoors.
The Best Types of Azaleas to Grow in Containers
The best azalea for containers is the Kurume Hybrid. The Kurume hybrid is a deciduous azalea that grows low and bushy. The plants will not grow larger than 3-4 feet tall, making them excellent choices for pots.
Kurume azaleas also make lovely house plants with wildly colorful flowers.
Pests & diseases Of Azaleas
Azalea lace bugs, thrips, leaf miners, and spider mites can be found on the underside of the azalea. They can cause severe issues by damaging the leaves and sucking the sap.
The presence is usually indicated by leaves that turn silver grey. In addition, the underside of the leaves will have a sticky brown deposit. This damage can lead to the development of sooty mold disease, so it is vital to deal with infestations early on.
Damage from weevils and beetle larvae can be a problem for container-grown azaleas; They can quickly kill a plant by eating away at the root system. Sprinkling the soil surface of container-grown plants with an insecticide will help prevent infestations.
If cared for properly, azaleas are generally disease-free. However, you may encounter fungal diseases usually caused by poor drainage or overwatering.
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Azaleas come in both deciduous and evergreen varieties. Deciduous azaleas will lose their leaves in winter, while evergreen varieties will stay green all year long. Unfortunately, there are no native deciduous azaleas in North America.
Azaleas will thrive in a location that has morning sun and afternoon shade. In addition, east-facing houses can plant azaleas as foundation plants for excellent curb appeal in spring.
Azaleas are generally carefree and easy to grow. They bloom heavily in spring year after year without a lot of intervention.
Azaleas require five things to produce abundant blooms in the spring:
1. Be sure the plant receives 5-6 hours of sunlight a day during the growing season.
2. After the plant blooms, add a balanced fertilizer to ensure good growth for next year’s flowers.
3. Be sure to deadhead blooms each year to encourage the plant to store energy into the roots.
4. Add a heavy layer of mulch before winter to protect the plant from frosts and help retain moisture.
5. Protect the plants during harsh winters with extra layers of protection with frost cloths or straw bales.