Azaleas are popular houseplants during the holiday season, often given as gifts. They come in a range of flower colors, including red and mauve, and with single or double (frilly) flowers. With proper care, azaleas will continue to thrive and flower.
Here's how to care for azaleas:
- Water carefully. The key to keeping an azalea happy is to get the watering right. They want compost that is permanently moist, but not to stand in water. When the compost starts to dry out, stand the pot in a bowl of water until the compost is thoroughly damp, then allow it to drain. Azaleas are acid-loving plants, so water with rainwater if you live in a hard water area.
- Keep the humidity up. Stand the azalea on a tray of gravel and water. The water is to raise humidity around the plant; the gravel is to stop the pot from standing in water.
- Keep cool. Azaleas like cool rooms with bright, indirect light. 50-60 F is ideal, but they can cope with temperatures down to 39 F. Excess heat and drafts will both cause the flowers to drop.
- Feed. When the plant is not flowering, feed weekly with a balanced liquid feed.
- Compost care. If the plant needs re-potting, remember to use an ericaceous compost and plenty of grit to help with drainage.
- Find a vacation spot. When the risk of frost has passed in spring, move your azalea outside into a semi-shaded spot. Remember to pay attention to watering. You may want to sink the pot into the soil to help keep the roots moist.
- Bring inside in fall. Bring your azalea inside again before the first frosts. All being well, it will flower again in spring.