The Q&A Archives: Tips on Azalea

Question: I have a space about 18'x20" in front of a very large azalea bush. Right now, I have some daffodil bulbs planted there. I'd like to dig them up and separate them (how do you do this?) and plant them further back towards the azalea, so that I can plant annuals to hide their dead foliage once the bulbs bloom. Is this the best way to camouflage them? Also, the azalea doesn't bloom very much. Is there something I can put on it to make it healthier? As well as annuals, can I plant some type of flowering ground cover in the space? Thanks very much. Karen Philadelphia, PA

Answer: Mark where the bulbs are growing presently. Let the foliage die back and then dig them up and replant them. Interplanting annuals is a good way to hide the fading foliage. You can also plant perennials that emerge later to hide the daffodils' foliage as well. Azaleas like a well-drained soil with an ample supply of organic matter. They do better in partial shade. The plant should be mulched since the roots are very shallow. Avoid planting in sites that are windy and/or exposed to winter sun. Soil pH should be 4.5-5.5. If necessary, use either sulfur or ferrous sulfate to lower the pH (1 1/2 - 4 lbs./100sq ft). Water the azaleas in the fall and do not let them dry excessively in winter. If possible, wrap in burlap for winter protection. If the site is sunny, try ajuga as a ground cover. If it is shady, then pachysandra or vinca would be appropriate.

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