Answer: Not all azaleas are winter hardy in your gardening region so it's possible that your plant died over the winter months. A sure way to tell is to cut one of the branches; if it has green tissue, it's still alive and there is hope; if the tissue is brown, that branch is dead. Keep cutting the plant back until you find green tissue. If you find none, the plant is dead and you should remove it from your garden. Most azaleas grow best in shade. If you planted yours in the sunshine, that might account for the problems it had last summer. It also needs to be deeply watered on a regular basis, so if it wasn't, that might also be the cause of the problems you encountered last summer. Try cutting the branches back to see if they're still alive. Best wishes with your garden.
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