Winter Care of Azaleas

Written by elizabeth punke
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Winter Care of Azaleas
Pink azaleas. (Azalea image by fabiomarc from Fotolia.com)

The azalea is a cultivar of the rhododendron, native to parts of America and deciduous by nature. Imports from countries such as Japan, however, have brought evergreen azaleas to the United States. The native azaleas may be susceptible to weather-related illness due to foliage loss. During the winter, proper care is required to prevent loss of plant life and protect the investment you have made in your garden.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Watering can
  • Mulch
  • Plastic tarp or sheet
  • Pruning shears

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Spread a thick layer of mulch over the flower bed where the azaleas are positioned. Place mulch around the base of the shrub at a thickness of at least 4 inches. The mulch will provide warmth, moisture and protection from pests.

  2. 2

    Water your plants one-third less in the month leading up to the first frost. Wait for the second or third heavy frost (a period of several hours during the night that drops below 00 degrees Celsius), and then apply ample water to moisten the ground well. This process is called "hardening off" and will allow the azalea shrub to fall dormant and protect itself from the cold.

  3. 3

    Cover the plants during an unexpected drop in temperature. When outside overnight temperatures fall to or below freezing, the azalea may undergo shock that can cause a lack of growth during that particular season. A tarp will offer protection. Push four primary stakes into the ground around the azaleas. Spread out a sheet or plastic tarp over the plants and primary stakes, securing them with secondary stakes to the ground.

  4. 4

    Prune any branches that are broken or appear to be spotted or discoloured. The bush will continue to have new growth each year, so prune back the azalea to keep a uniform shape. If you wish to allow the azalea to grow larger, prune only damaged limbs. Always cut at a 45-degree angle to keep water from collecting at the limb tip. Cut just above a node, the bump where a new branch will form.

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