Mother’s day is this weekend and many mothers will receive a potted azalea for mother’s day. At least some of the mothers who have these plants will care for them until they wilt, then throw them out. But with proper care, potted Azaleas may be preserved as container plants or planted in the ground to grow as shrubs.
Azaleas prefer cool temperatures, so you should place a potted azalea in the coolest part of your home. The best spot for a potted azalea is a place where the temperatures range between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit and they receive lots of indirect sunlight. Pick off spent blooms to avoid problems with disease. Once the plant finishes blooming, it can be moved into direct sun.
Water the plant frequently to keep the soil from drying out, but do not overwater. Azaleas prefer soil that is damp to the touch. Do not allow the plant to wilt. This can cause root rot, and yellowing leaves. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks when you water the plant.
Although new plants will not need to be replanted, you should repot azaleas once every few years to prevent the plant from becoming root bound. Use an azalea mix or a potting mix made of 3 parts acidic peat moss and 1 part compost.
If you continue to grow your azalea indoors, it may not produce flowers. Instead, you should sink your azalea pot into the ground in a partially sunny location in May after it finishes blooming. During the summer time period, Azaleas set their blooms for the following year on the plants. Continue to give your plant care throughout the summer, including shaping it by clipping the ends of the branches before July 1 when the blooms set.
Keep the plant outdoors as long as you can. Protect it from a light frost by covering the plant in a bed sheet, or a piece of plastic. Bring the plant indoors before the first hard freeze. Place the plant in a sunny, unheated room like a garage or a potting shed. Potted azaleas need temperatures just above freezing (between 40 and 50 degrees) from the first part of November to the first part of January. The plant will go dormant during this period and will not need fertilizer. You should also cut back on water to prevent root rot. Only water the plant enough to keep it from wilting during winter.
When the buds on the plant begin to swell, move it to a room where it will get lots of indirect sunlight and night temperatures around 60 degrees.
In an azalea, yellowing leaves is a sign that the potting mix you are using has become too high in pH. The alkaline soil prevents the plant from taking up iron and leads to iron chlorosis in the leaves. An application of ammonium sulphate will lower the pH of soil, while a dose of iron sulphate or chelated iron will help with the yellowing of the leaves. Mix a teaspoon of ammonium sulphate and 1 teaspoon of iron sulphate with a quart of water. Apply this to the plant every 2 to 3 weeks in lieu of fertilizer.
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