The Q&A Archives: Azalea Leaves Dying

Question: My azalea's leaves are turning brown and falling off. This started occuring after a good spring bloom around April. Each week it is looking worse and worse. The azalea is watered only about once per week, so I don't think it is due to over watering. I fertilized the azalea with a liquid fertilizer when the blooms started fading (Applied to ground, not leaves) and a couple of weeks after I added a time release fertilizer. The azalea is about 4 years old and this has been the routine over the last 4 years. The azalea typically blooms one to two times a year and has always been a good producer. I live in the Sacramento area and my soil type is heavily clay. Can you help me figure out the problem and possible solution before it is too late??? Thank you for the help.

Answer: It is really difficult to diagnose a plant problem without actually seeing it, but I wonder if there is a vascular problem behind the browning leaves. It sounds as though your azaleas grow well during the summer months - that's when they set flower buds for the following spring's display, and if they are flowering on schedule, they must be healthy during the summer. The only difference between summer and winter (besides temperatures) is the amount of water or rainfall. This is what makes me suspicious of the drainage during the winter months, which seems to be resulting in your plants teetering on the brink of root rot. Is there some way you can improve the drainage around your azaleas? Perhaps a gravel-filled trench or a curtain drain so rain water can drain rapidly? I think if you can do that, your azaleas will perk up quite a bit.

Hope so!

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