The Q&A Archives: Indoor Azalea

Question: I have two indoor plants that I recently bought. They had no tag but I am postivive they are some sort of indoor azalea. They are small and are flowering now. The blooms and leaves and stalk all look like an azalea. I was told if it was an indoor azalea that it was the variety that does not like to go out. My question is...they both seem fine and healthy but are dropping leaves. How moist do these need to be? Is the leaf problem from dry soil? I have been watering frequently but can barely keep up with their thirst. They are in a standard potting soil in a nice sized pot. I have fertilized with MirAcid once in the last month. How normal is leaf loss with these guys?

Answer: There are two types of Azaleas available as flowering pot plants. The Indian Azalea (Rhododendron simsii) is the most popular one. The second type is the Japanese Azalea (Rhododendron obtusum). Both are dwarf shrubs which grow about 1' - 1 1/2' tall. The Indian Azalea blooms in pink, white, red or purple, and some are white-edged. The flowers of the Japanese Azalea are smaller, but the plant has the advantage of growing outdoors in mild winter climates. Either type will thrive indoors if the soil is kept wet (not just moist), it's in a brightly lit spot away from direct sunlight, and the plant is kept cool (50F - 60F) at all times. Mist the leaves daily while the plant is in bloom and remove spent blooms to encourage additional flowering. If your plants are dropping leaves, they are communicating their unhappiness with their new growing environment. They may be overheated, in a draft, or not getting the moisture they require. Try to find a more suitable spot for your new plants and they should perk right up.

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