NACOGDOCHES, TX - Now is the best time to plant azaleas. The plants can take full advantage of cooler soil and frequent rains to grow strong roots, full buds, and healthy leaves. Choose azaleas with buds at the ends of the branches and healthy green leaves. Our local garden centers can guide you through their selections. Here is how to make the most of fall planting.
Soil Tips. Can you stick your shovel-better yet, your fingers-into the soil easily? Azalea roots grow in the top 4-6 inches of soil rich in organic matter-that is, pine straw, oak leaves, or compost that has broken down to make a crumbly mix of small particles, larger than sand. If your soil is rock hard, you will need to dig in compost or build a raised bed. Test your soil to make sure it is acidic (pH of 5.0 to 6.5).
Mulching. To reduce heat-stress the first summer, mulch right after the spring bloom and again in September. Pine needle straw is great, since it is slightly acidic, and compost is good, but avoid hardwood chips.
Pruning. Azaleas set buds in the summer for next year, so trim branches right after bloom is over, never in the fall.
Azaleas are some of the most beautiful and long-lived flowering shrubs we have. Beat the heat by planting them this fall to enjoy for years to come.