Answer: Based on your description I think you may have purchased plants intended for seasonal florist-type display rather than winter hardy landscape plants for planting in the garden. There are many different types of azaleas, and some are not winter hardy in colder climates such as yours (the word tropical makes me think this may be the case.) Gardenias would not be reliably hardy in your area, either, but are often sold as container plants to be enjoyed and then discarded or else kept as patio plants in summer and then brought indoors for the winter. Gardenia and azalea both could handle bright dappled light all day or morning-only sun.
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