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Help, The Leaves Are Falling Off My Blooming Azalea!

Ask the Expert: re:  azalea
I recently received a blooming azalea.  It is loosing massive amounts of its leaves.  What should I do? Sheila

Reply:

Sheila,

Your plant is in shock.  Probably from the move from the florist shop to your home or office.  All plants will go through some shock when they are moved from one place to another.  This won’t kill the plant if you take the proper steps to help it through the shock.  With blooming Azaleas the shock is intensified when the plant is over-watered or under-watered.

The first thing I do when I receive a blooming plant is remove the beautiful foil wrapping.  The foil wrapping makes for a great presentation but not for a great environment for the plant.  You can enjoy the plant for a couple days with the foil on but, then it is imperative that you remove it.  Why? Because the foil won’t let the plant (in this case a blooming Azalea) drain properly.

All plants need to have good drainage or they can get root rot. Of course too much water is not always the problem, too little water, exposure to too much cold or heat and light issues can, also, cause the plant to loose leaves.   So, we must determine what is the root of your problem.

Check the soil for moisture.  Is it dry or soggy?  Correct either condition so that the soil is moist to the touch when you stick your finger an inch or two deep in the soil.  (Tip: pull a little soil out from that level – can you roll it into a ball? If no it is too dry.  If yes but you can sqeeze water from it to wet.)

Now check your light source.  For a blooming Azalea, it needs bright light.

Make sure the plant is not exposed to a cold or hot draft.  The air temperature needs to be a constant as possible.  Normal household temperatures will usually suffice.

Once you have corrected all of these issue, you are good to go from here on out.  However, you need to keep in mind that the damage may have occurred before you received it.  Don’t panic plants are very resilient and will bounce back when given the right conditions.  The key is to look for new growth and DON’T Fertilize Til Plant is out of shock.  It might take a week or two but the leaves will stop falling off and new growth will start to emerge.  Just make sure to keep all of your conditions light, temperature and moisture constant.  Good luck and keep me posted.

Comments

  1. lika Jinoria says:

    Hello. I have read your advice. I have the same problem and I found out that my azalea is over watered, the soil is very wet. What should I do? Should I wait until it become dry?

    please help me

    Thank you in advance

  2. Iika,

    It depends. How well does your soil drain? If the soil is going to be wet for several days, you’ll want to repot the plant in dry soil to avoid root rot. If your soil drains quickly and dries quickly, you should be okay to let it dry on its own.

    Thanks,

    Ed

  3. Can I put an azalea outside in the Texas summer heat. Right now, it has lost it’s leaves. Not sure if this is heat, watering, or what?

  4. Reba,

    Azalea can certainly be grow outside in Texas. However, a significant temperature change could cause more issues for the azalea. So you need to acclimate it slowly – by placing in a shady area for a few days before planting in a sunnier location.

    I am a little concerned that the plant has lost its leaves. You need to determine what the issue is before moving it.

  5. Betty Avramidis says:

    My daughter sent me an Azalea Bonsai for my birthday. It was shipped across country. RIght after i recieved it the leaves started to fall off. Its close to being bare now. I have notice new leaves beginning to grow. I have it in front of a window and the soil is moist , not too dry but not too wet. Should i be concerned about losing so many leaves. Also how often should i water it ? I usually spray the soil with a water bottle.

  6. Betty,
    Azalea trees must not dry out but they also don’t like permanent wetness. As long as the soil remains moist, you are watering properly. You Azalea is probably suffering from transport shock. Any tree that spends longer than three days in shipping will most likely arrive stressed. Since you have new leaves beginning to grow, I would not worry. Continue to care for your Azalea with proper watering and the plant should return back to normal. If the plant is still losing leaves in a few weeks, let us know and we will try to find the source of the problem. Hope this information helps!

  7. Hi 🌼
    Same problem here. I lost my beloved kitty a month ago, and when I saw this beautiful white blossom azalea, it just reminded me of her, so I bought it in her honor. Didn’t realize it had “special needs” which is really quite amazing because my cat also had special needs. She was a tiny thing the size of a kitten, and had to have a very specific formula of food, temperature, care etc.
    So, the Azalea was in the foil & too small pot, I repotted her in regular Potting soil. Then later when it started dropping leaves like crazy, read it needed special stuff, watering, light & temperature. I corrected all of the above but it’s still losing leaves. The blossoms are doing quite well but it’s almost bare as far as leaves go, and I don’t see new growth. Is it too late to save it? 😞

  8. Jamie Woods says:

    Hi Bobbi,
    Your Azalea could just be experiencing shock from being transplanted. Overwatering can also cause Azaleas to lose their leaves. They don’t like soggy soil, so make sure your plant has adequate drainage.

  9. Jennifer says:

    When I brought the Azalea home it was full of flowers and leave, now all the flowers are drooping and the leaves are almost all gone . There is some new growth , I felt the potting mix it was planted in at the store, There is no way you can roll it in a ball, it;s almost like a sand sponge and not dry or damp feeling. Can you help?

  10. I have a twisted potted azalea that ive planted outside in washington state. The flowers are droopy now and was wondering if it will live or die?

  11. Jamie Woods says:

    Hey Jennifer,
    Even though the soil has a sandy consistency, you should still be able to tell if it’s damp. It sounds like your azalea needs more water. If there is new growth, I would not be too concerned.

  12. Jamie Woods says:

    Lyanna,
    It’s hard to say. You will probably just have to wait and see.

  13. I have two small azaleas that I purchased right after Easter. They were GREAT for long time – new growth and everything, but now – though the soil is damp to the touch – leaves & branches are drying out and dropping all over. I don’t get it! In front of west-facing glass door – with no previous issues. Thanks
    L

  14. Jeanne Valentine says:

    Can my Azalea be planted outside or does it need to stay a houseplant? I live in Chicago, Zone 5.
    Thanks

  15. Lynda,

    If your azalea came with foil around the pot, the excess water isn’t able to drain completely away from the plant. If Azaleas are kept too wet they will develop root rot and the plant will wilt and turn brown. Check to make sure the plant isn’t soggy. Once you correct the problem the plant should recover.

  16. Jeanne,

    Most azaleas are hardy in zones 6-9. So zone 5 would be too cold for them.

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