Newbie to Azaleas need help

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

I've never had luck with Azaleas. This will be my second home and trying to grow these lovely plants. I know they are acid loving plants and feed them with the correct food. I have 3 located in morning sun, shade the rest of the day. I have another spot with 3 that gets no early morning sun, only shaded by mid day sun and they get hot afternoon sun. The 2nd group does better, the first 3 are dead. So not lots to be said for the 2nd group.

When planting, etc. is there something I miss or watering to much? My co-worker suggested mulching with pine needles this fall. But I think there's more to it and I'm open to suggestions.

Kathy

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I'm surprised that the ones that get hot afternoon sun are doing better, I would think it would be the other way around, they typically like morning sun but some protection from the hot sun in the afternoon. Can you post some pictures? Maybe it's too late if the plants are already completely dead, in that case maybe a description of what the symptoms were that they had leading up to their death would be helpful. And here are a couple other questions for you that may help track down the problem:

What time of year did you plant them? Lots of people tend to plant things in the summertime, and when you do that it can be very hard for the plants to get established, so if that's when you planted them that could explain the problems, even when you do everything right, things that are planted in the summer (or late in the spring) will sometimes end up not making it.

Are any of them planted right up next to a sidewalk or the foundation of the house? Concrete can leach lime into the soil which will raise the pH, so acid loving plants will sometimes struggle in locations like that.

Have you checked your soil pH? Feeding them fertilizer for acid lovers is a good start, but if your soil is really alkaline just the fertilizer alone won't be enough to get the soil pH into a range where they'll be happy, you may need to do some more extreme amendments.

And lastly, watering is always a suspect anytime plants aren't doing well--too much and too little water often have similar symptoms.

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

The 3 dead: planted in spring, beside the porch lattace, no solid foundation near. Watered, they bloomed some and one by one they dropped leafs. Don't recall if they yellowed or not but they are now returned to the store as dead!

I guess the sun didn't rule over the pine needle earth the 3 living plants are in. Not checked my soil but do need to get it tested. However, there hasn't been anything planted in this yard in many years. I had 2 trees in front that were maybe 2 yrs old and 1 pussy willow & 1 rose of sharon in the back. The soil is perfect in the yard because everything else has grown 3 times their normal rate. Rich farm soil I guess.

The only other things that have not done well and may be related is Dogwood trees. I have 3 that are terrible looking and planted in Spring.

Kathy

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Did you plant them right around the time you had that Easter freeze? If they were planted before that cold spell, they wouldn't have had time to get established before that freeze came, so that could have killed them (We had a similar colder than normal period in January, and I lost some recently planted things which would have otherwise been hardy in my area because they didn't have time to get established before the cold hit). Maybe the ones that survived were in a little bit more protected location. Otherwise, since it sounds like they died shortly after planting, I'm going to guess it was probably a watering issue, it can be tricky to get the right amount of water for newly planted things. I would still check your soil pH just to make sure it's not too alkaline before you try again though.

Cincinnati, OH

Azaleas ate two groups within Rhododendron with 1,000 species. They have various requirements as to shade and light and to drought tolerance. They usually like a lot of fast draining water
Swamp Azalea
http://www.paghat.com/az-antilope.html

Western Azalea- this generally only can be grown in Oregon and south to within 25 miles of the Alta California/Baja California border.
http://www.paghat.com/rhody-occidentale.html

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Great - thanks for the links.

Kathy

Caldwell, NJ(Zone 6a)

Kathy,
I think that the most important thing in Rhododendron and Azalea culture is to pick out plants which have good hardiness, and the second thing is to give them a site where they will get filtered sun, acid soil, good drainage, and plenty of water when the summer heat comes. where I am I use the Gable hybrids and the Gartrell hybrids.
good luck and don't give up,
arfitz

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks! I'm giving 8 of them a try.

kathy

Cincinnati, OH

Which eight?

Pearisburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Don't recall the name, pink blooms, will post tomorrow.
k

Caldwell, NJ(Zone 6a)

Be careful of overfeeding these plants. They are low in nutrient
Needs and can easily be overfed. Never fertilize after may 30th.

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