Q: What can I do to keep my garden azaleas looking great?

A: The Azalea Society of America references a Chinese province claiming to have the world’s oldest azalea at 262 years old, with a 28-inch diameter trunk.

While your azaleas may not reach 262 years, with proper care and maintenance, you can help your azaleas survive Houston winters, summers, floods, and droughts for many years. Here are some recommendations to keep them blooming and looking great throughout the years.

Azaleas prefer filtered sun and have shallow roots that appreciate regular watering. There are newer hybrids that bloom sporadically year-round, but the stunning springtime shows of traditional varieties is what most gardeners really enjoy.

Add a good measure of quality compost or garden soil around the base after the azaleas have bloomed, then top with mulch. Prune to shape, but don’t prune any later than June, or you may affect the blooms for next spring.

After pruning, feed azaleas with an organic liquid spray all over the plant and tops and bottoms of the leaves. Try horticultural molasses and a seaweed/fish emulsion mix per product label recommendations. If you see faded looking leaves with small black spots on the undersides, lace bugs may have damaged the foliage. The foliar spray will feed the plants, add beneficial minerals, and ward off problem insects like lace bugs.

Be sure to herald the spring by attending the River Oaks Garden Club’s 85th Annual Azalea Trail March 6, 7, and 8..

Suzzanne Chapman
Author: Suzzanne ChapmanEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Suzzanne Chapman is the botanical collections curator at Mercer Botanic Gardens and promotes organic gardening, growing native plants, and protecting the environment. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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