Question: What advise can you give me to grow beautiful - healthy azeleas? Lighting, soil, bugs to watch for?
Answer: Choose a site with bright shade (morning sun is alright). In deep shade they will not bloom as well, and in full sun they tend to wilt and suffer.
Azaleas love a soil rich in organic matter. Build a raised planting area using composted pine bark in a 50:50 mix with sand or your native soil. They prefer their growing mix to be on the acidic side. Sometimes, additions of a little powdered sulfur to the mix can be helpful.
Keep them well watered but not soggy. If your water is high pH, which I suspect it is, you may need to use iron chelates to the soil around the bush periodically to keep them green and happy.
Azaleas have few pests in your area. There is a lace bug which occasionally appears, but I suggest you wait until it becomes evident to worry about what to use to control it. It may never become a problem for you.
Good luck with your azaleas!
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