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How Can I Tell If Azalea Is Dead?

Hot Pink Azalea

Hot Pink Azalea

Ask the Expert: Is it dead an azalea that lose all its leaves?
I bought this azalea in february and did very good for one month and then started to lose the flowers and all the leaves. It was inside my house in a spot with good light, so I thougt that maybe needed to be outside, but is not looking good neither. Jennifer.

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:

The first thing you need to do is check the viability of the Azalea. You can do this by testing the stems for signs of green. Take your fingernail and lightly scrape the stem. If the you see green where you scraped the stem the plant is still alive. If it isn’t green go further down the stem until you find  green. You will need to trim off any part of the stem that isn’t green.

Once you have determined that your azalea is still alive, you need to make sure it is planted in the ground or pot in a container with good drainage.  After the azalea is in its new home you need to keep it moist but not soggy and fertilize it once a month (April through August) with a slow release fertilizer.  The Azalea will do best in an area with at least half a day sun.

Side note: Anytime you receive an Azalea from a florist shop and it comes with pretty foil around it, remove the foil within a couple days. Foil is great for dressing up the  Azalea, but it doesn’t allow for proper drainage. So remove it as soon as possible.

This plant care question was brought to you by local Raleigh Florists.

What Causes Azalea Leaves To Fall Off

azaleasAsk the Expert: Leaves falling off established azaleas
the azaleas in the front yard that have been in place for many years are suddenly losing their green leaves. any ideas.i am attaching two pics. Tim

Plant Expert Reply:

It is hard to tell from the picture. If the leaves are dropping from the bottom of the azalea, you have a pruning issue.  See how the top of your azalea is shading the bottom. The top should not be wider than the bottom. When the top of the azalea is wider than the bottom, the lower leaves will become too shaded and drop off. That is why proper pruning is important. Most plants do better if trimmed like a pear shape – fuller at the bottom and gradually narrower at the top. This will allow sunlight exposure to all the leaves.

Other issue that cause azalea leaves to fall off are: too much water, insect damage, chemical damage.

If your area has been experiencing usually heavy rain fall, the azalea will start to drop leaves. Azaleas become stressed in soggy soil. When in stress they will drop their leaves. Correction for this problem is a well-drained soil or enough time for the area to dry before another rain or watering.

There are a few insects that will attack azalea and can cause the leaves to fall off. Lace bugs will give the azalea leaves a lacy pattern and can cause some of the leaves to drop off. Correction for this problem is to use the appropriate insecticide and a treatment of fertilizer.

Some insecticides and pesticides if not used properly can cause azaleas to drop their leaves.

In your case, I believe you have a water issue or a pruning issue.

This plant problem question was brought to you by Shreveport Florists.


How To Care For Mother’s Day Azalea

Ask The Expert: I got a Azalea Plant for Mothers Day, and I want to know if I can plant it in a flower pot instead of planting it outside because we are planing to move from the home we are now living in. I also need to know how I should I plant it in the pot.

Thank you very much Katie

Plant Expert Reply:

If you are planning on moving and want to take the plant with you, I would keep it in a pot.  I assume that the azalea came from a florist.  Typically these types of azaleas do well in a pot for quite a while and are hardy only in zone 7-10.  If it came in a basket or was wrapped in foil, I would transplant it into a better container with a drain hole. Azlaea do not like to be soggy, so drainage is essential. Use a peat based potting soil with gravel, rocks or broken terracotta pieces at the bottom of the pot.

While the azalea is in the pot be careful not to over water it. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. The soil should be moist to the touch but you should not be able to squeeze water from it.

If you are moving to a 7-10 zone, you can plant the azalea in your yard. Again you will need to plant the azalea in soil that drains well.  I also suggest mulching the azalea with pine mulch. During the warm season place it on your deck or patio.  During the winter place it in a room with lots of light.

During the growing season (April through August), make sure you fertilize it.  You can use liquid mir-acid every couple of weeks. Once in the ground use a slow release fertilize with a systemic insecticide once a month.

Good luck and please kee me posted.

This plant care questions was brought ot you by Mobile AL Florists

Revitalizing Old Azaleas

Ask the Expert: Need expert advice on how to prune old azaleas
I have two old azaleas, beautiful orange and peach.  I have moved them from one home to another @ 10 years ago.  They have very few blooms, nice leaves but some bare branches.  I would like to prune them to make them healthly and full like they once were but do not want to kill them.  Can someone tell me how to best care for them?  They reside in VA and are about 4 feet tall. Belvia

Plant Expert Reply:

First do the azaleas get at least half a day sun? To be full and beautiful azlaeas need light. If the azaleas are not getting enough light, move them to a better location.  When you move them you will need to trim them. The following trimming instrutions will work whether you move them or not.

Trim your Azaleas back to half their size. Make sure the bottom is a little fuller than the top so that light will get through to all of the plant. Normally you trim azaleas right after they bloom. In your case the timing should be ok. The azaleas in your area should have bloomed already or at least be in bloom.

Once you have trimmed your azaleas, you need to fertilize them. I like to use a slow release granular fertilizer that has a systemic insecticide in it. This way the azalea get the nutrients they need and protection for insect to boot.  A good rule of thumb for healthy azaleas is to fertilize them from April through August once a month.

To keep your azaleas healthy and shapely trim them once a year right after they bloom.  Always make the bottom fuller than the top.

Good Luck and keep me posted.

This plant question was brought to you by local Arlington Florists.

Did I Prune My Azaleas Correctly?

Ask the Expert: Help !!! azalea problem
After my azaleas blooming..I pruned them…some just a little be but I’ve a couple of them to big so I decided to prune a lot but I concerned that wasn’t a good idea, please see the pictures. the wood looks dark. Thanks for your help Elsa

Plant Expert Reply:

I am assuming that your Azaleas are deciduous and not evergreen. Either way you did the right thing by pruning them after they finished blooming.  All azaleas whether deciduous or evergreen will have dormant buds that will leaf out after a plant has been pruned. So the important thing is to give your plant shape as you prune it.

To keep your azalea full and attractive, you need to make sure light gets to the plant from top to bottom. To do this make sure your plant is like a pear shaped woman – narrow towards the top and fuller towards the bottom.  After a severe pruning it will take shrubs a couple of weeks to leaf back out. In fact, I just butchered the shrubs at my house. By my Memorial day party, they will be flushed back out.

I did notice that a few of your branches have winter damage. If these branch do not leaf out in the next couple of weeks, prune them back to the point where the leaves have flushed.

Now would also be a good time to fertilize them. A good rule of thumb for feeding azaleas is AA – April through August once a month.  In some areas you can start fertilizing sooner and extend the feeding a month longer.

I recommend a slow release fertilizer blended for azaleas. I use an azalea fertilizer than contains a systemic insecticide as well. This will keep the azaleas happy and healthy. Your local garden center and nursery should carry the azalea fertilizer they need. You can ask for Fertilome Azalea/Evergreen Food Plus with systemic or something similar.

Azalea Issues Leading to Browning

Ask the Expert: how to revive an azalea
my grandpa has three azalea bushes on the front of his house. they are kinda small. but one of the end ones isn’t doing too great. half of it basically looks dead and the other half isn’t spectacular but it looks a good bit better than the other half. the leaves and stems are turning brown as if they’re drying out but they have had plenty of water due to rainfall. he has treated it with some sort of triple threat funguside called fertiloan that is supposed fight fungus and mites but it still does not look good. any suggestions on what type of treatment it might need? Tim

Plant Expert Reply:
First, you might as well prune out the brown branches that are dead. This will do 2 things: 1) removes any disease tissue that might have twig blight, 2) should stimulate the plant to produce new growth. Don’t burn the branches instead place them in a garbage bag for pick up.

Second, make sure the azaleas are not getting too much water. Over-watering can present the same signs as under-watering and Azalea do not like wet feet. They are very susceptible to root rot. If your Azalea are newly planted, check the planting depth. The original top of the rootball should be slightly higher than ground level.

Planting An Azalea

Planting An Azalea

This drawing is my attempt at demonstrating the correct root-ball placement when planting an azalea. You want the root-ball positioned so that the top is slightly higher than ground level. You will take the soil you dug out of the hole and used it to close the gap but you won’t need to place it on top of the root-ball. You can cover the top of the ground and root-ball top with mulch. If the Azaleas are planted too deep, they will not properly drain and the plant could have problems just like the ones you are describing.

If water isn’t the issue, give the triple action time to work. It won’t correct the damage already done, but it will keep it from progressing. Spider mites and fungus can also cause Azaleas to turn brown. Triple Action has the right mixture to take care of both problems.

If you haven’t fertilized the azaleas, give them a dose of fertilizer specifically blended for azaleas. Your local garden center should have one. At our garden center we carry a Fertilome Azalea fertilizer and a Hi-yield Fertilizer that work well. Azaleas need a slow-release fertilizer once a month April thru August.

Good luck and keep me posted.

Blooming Azalea As A Houseplant

Ask the Expert: Azalea (indoor plant)
Is there any way I can keep it indoors so that it will bloom again next year.  ? Terry

Plant Expert Reply:

Normally the best place for an Azalea is outside in a shrub bed.  However, potted azaleas that come from a florist have been breed and forced to bloom for indoor conditions.  If you are going to use this type of azalea as a houseplant, keep the azalea in a room with a good light source.  Keep it moist during the summer months and fertilize once a week with a water-soluble fertilizer.  In the fall begin to hold back water slightly and keep it in a cool spot in the house.  When you see the bloom buds start to open move to a warmer location.  Keep in mind these plants do not really tolerate warm temperatures for any length of time.  You may need to move the plants occasionally to keep the temperature to the plants liking.

Potted Azalea Needs A Bigger Home

Ask the Expert: I have an Azalea which my son bought me a few years ago I planted it out a couple of years ago and it has given me some beautiful shows each year. but now it seems that all the leaves have turned brown and i haven’t had so many flowers on it this year seeing it is in a big pot on my patio do you think it would do it good to prune it right back and also get it out and refill with new Azalea soil again. i shouldn’t like to think that i will loose it now after all this time.

Lynne Harper

Plant Expert Reply:
A couple of things could be going wrong.

Your pot maybe to small to handle the growth of the azalea. Azaleas are a shrub and usually need more room than an average size pot for long term survivability.  If your azalea seems to have outgrown it’s container, you will need to transplant it in the yard or into a larger pot.  I would trim the plant back by a fourth when your transplant it.  This should encourage new growth.

Water stress is another issue that could cause the symptons the plant is exhibiting.  You will need to determine if the Azalea has had too much or two little water.  Check your drain holes.  Make sure they are still draining.  Correct the water issue and then keep the plant evenly moist.  I recommend trimming the Azalea slightly.

The last issue that could be our problem is insect damage.  Take a magnifying glass and look for spider mites.  At the same time, look for any other indication of pests.  If you find insects, you will need to spray the Azalea with an insecticide. Once again I recommend trimming the Azalea slightly.

If you haven’t fertilized the plant lately, you may need to give it a well-balanced fertilizer.  I usually wait until the plant shows signs of recovery before I load it up with fertilizer.

If you still are not sure what is going on with your Azalea, send me a couple of pictures.  I need one close-up picture of the leaf and one of the whole plant.

Rhododendron Better For Garden Than Wedding

Lavender Rhododendron

Lavender Rhododendron

Ask the Expert: What kind of flower is this?
My friend has this flower in her yard and doesn’t know what it’s called. I think it”s beautiful and I would love to use it in  my wedding but cannot find the name of it.
Thank you! Lindsey

Plant Expert Reply:

Your friend has a lavender Rhododendron.  This shrub is fantastic in the garden.  However probably not a good one for wedding flower use.  If you want to incorporate these into your wedding, you will probably need to use potted ones.  Of you will need to check with your local florist as to the availability of potted Rhododendron in your area and during the season of your wedding.  Your florist might be able to provide potted Azaleas which are part of the Rhododendron genus.

Help My Potted Blooming Azalea Is Going Down Fast

Ask The Expert: I rec’d a beautiful azalea looking like the 1 in your photo. It remained so for 2 weeks but now…not only has it lost most of it’s blooms, the leaves have fallen off also. What did I do wrong??? Carol Anne

Normally azaleas bloom only for a four to six week period. From the time they open an azalea bloom is on its way to death. This is a normal process, so blooms drying and falling off isn’t a problem. However, the leaves falling off indicate the azalea is in stress. Water is usually the culprit for this stress. Most florist azalea come to your house wrapped in beautiful paper with a bow. Which is great for presentations but should be removed as soon as possible for the health of the plant. The wrapping does not allow the plant to drain properly. You want to keep your azalea moist but not soggy and in bright light to keep it healthy. So check your soil and make sure excess water is draining away from the plant. Keep the plant evenly moist and it should start to recover. Good luck and keep me posted.