The Q&A Archives: Azalea's dying

Question: Our azalea's are dying one by one. They are planted up against the house where they get no sun at all. We have tried azalea fertilizer, blood meal, not watering often letting the soil dry out and making sure not to get the leaves wet. They seem to start dying right after they bloom. We were hoping that they would grow into a hedge along the house. Maybe we should try something else. Do you have any suggestions of a hedge like plant that would flower?

Answer: Azaleas require an acid soil with ample moisture, but are susceptible to root rot if the soil isn't well-draining. If you want to grow azaleas near the foundation of your home (where the soil is likely to be alkaline), have your soil tested to make sure the pH is low (5.8 to 6.3). If it tests higher than that, amend the soil with peatmoss and mulch with peat to help keep the soil on the acidic side. Water your azaleas often enough to keep the soil from drying out, and water deeply enough to wet the entire root mass. Other plants that will grow nicely near the foundation of your house include Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry), Nandina domestica (Heavenly Bamboo), and Escallonia. You can prune these shrubs to the height and width you want and they'll still grow and bloom for you.

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