The Q&A Archives: Azaleas Turning Brown And Lots Of Dead Areas Already On Them

Question: I live in Tulsa Ok where Azaleas grow very well everywhere but my backyard! I recently moved here and the previous owner had ten azaleas in the backyard. They did fine the first summer and started looking bad last summer. I kept them watered and now they are greenish brown with lots of leaves yet lots of dead twigs too. What can I do to save my azaleas? I have just recently added pecan shell mulch around the base of them yet i have never fertilized them at all. Please help soon.

Answer: Unfortunately, based on your description I can't diagnose the specific problem with your azaleas, but here are some pointers. Azaleas need a humusy, acid, moist yet well drained soil, so be sure you are watering regularly and keep the plants mulched year round with several inches of organic mulch. Have your soil tested to be sure the pH is on the acid side. Your plants may be suffering from drying out at the roots, but they may also be suffering from being dried out by winter sun and wind. To remedy this, make sure they are watered in the fall and during warm spells in winter and also consider using an antidessicant spray if they are the evergreen type. Finally, there may be a pest problem at work; watch them carefully this spring and early summer and take leaf samples for identification if you see anything unusual happening. Your county extension (746-3700) should be able to help you with the soil testing and with specifically identifying the true problem with your azaleas. In the meantime, start at the tips of the branches and trim away any truly dead stems and twigs and pick up any fallen leaves; put them in the trash to limit carryover of any pest or disease.

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