The Q&A Archives: soil for azaleas

Question: Hello! I recently purchased some hardy red dwarf azaleas and need to know which kind of planting soil I should buy for when I put them in the ground. Thank you!

Answer: Azaleas need soil that is organic and humusy, acidic, evenly moist and yet well drained. In many cases it is best to start with some basic soil tests to check the pH of the native soil and see if it needs to be adjusted. Then you would probably need to work in lots of organic matter such as compost and/or milled spagnum peat moss or old rotted down leaves, plus possibly a small amount of coarse sand. If your local soil is clay-based, you may need to create a slightly raised planting bed for azaleas in order to assure the good drainage they need. You would also want to mulch them year round with an organic mulch such as pine fines, it should be spread in a flat layer over the root area and maintained at a depth of two to three inches at the most. Your local county extension should be able to help you with the soil tests and interpreting the results, they may also have suggestions about preparing the soil specifically for azaleas based on their knowledge of the local soil types and availability of amendments. Enjoy your azaleas!

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