Azalea (Rhododendron Indicum) Care Sheet
Tips and Tricks for Caring for Your Azalea Tree
The Azalea is an evergreen shrub, popular for its beautiful flowers. Their flowers come in a variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. Species such as Satsuki, Kurume, and Kazan are used in Japan as bonsai.
Azaleas thrive in very sunny spots, and enjoy morning sun, but need to be shaded from the hottest time of day in the summer. When flowering (typically May through June), protect from rain and hot sun. This will make the flowers last longer. Azaleas can be kept outside until the temperatures drop below 45°F. Azaleas do best in zones 7 and 8.
Keep outside until temperatures drop below 45°F, then move into a cold room. Azaleas do best in temperatures between 35-55°F. Temperatures above that can cause your Azalea to flower early.
Azaleas do not like permanent wetness or soil that's too dry, so monitor the soil carefully. If the root ball gets too dry, dip in a bowl of water to get it completely moistened. Since they need slightly acidic soil, hard tape water is not appropriate for Azaleas. Use rainwater or filtered tap water. During the growing season, water at least once throughout the day. You want the soil to remain moist, not soggy.
Azaleas prefer slightly acidic soil. They also like soil that is lime-free, so Kanuma is a perfect choice. During the growing season, feed with an Azalea-specific fertilizer. Feed at least every other week in spring until the flowering period has ended. Do not feed during blooming.
Azaleas should be repotted every two years, either in spring or after flowering. The roots are very thin and knotted, so prune with care. The roots can be torn easily when trying to disentangle them. Cut out the bottom of the root ball at each transplanting. Do not repot while your Azalea is flowering, as it places unnecessary strain on the tree.
Cuttings should be taken in the spring and summer for propagation. Use transparent sheets during the hottest part of the year to protect young cuttings from too much evaporation. You can also propagate from softwood cuttings.
Azaleas are basally-dominant, which means the lower branches grow stronger than the weaker ones at the top. This causes the "shrub" shape. Take care not to prune too much. Prune branches stronger the base. Azaleas can tolerate a heavy pruning and will even produce new shoots from branches where no leaves are left. Pinch wilted flowers off by hand immediately after flowering. The perfect time to prune and trim your Azalea is in the summer when new flower buds for the next year develop.
The wood of Azaleas is brittle so take care when wiring or bending your tree. Because of the brittle branches and tender bark, aluminum wire is best suited for Azaleas. You can use raffia or raffia tape to protect the bark. The best time to wire is in November. Root-over-rock, semi-cascade, and windswept are popular styles for the Azalea.
Low humidity supports spider mites. Vine weevil can eat leaves and their grubs will damage roots. There are special pesticides to treat these pests. Too much water can cause root rot and leaf falls. If the soil is not acidic enough, your Azalea can suffer from lime-induced chlorosis.
Kanuma Soil Mix
KIKU™ Root Hook
KIKU™ 8" Long Needle Nose Scissors
After years of enjoying the hobby of Bonsai, Superfly Bonsai was born. It started with a single bonsai soil mix, known as Pro Mix, and quickly gained popularity. This led Superfly to add more mixes to meet the needs of different trees, climates, and personal preferences. After merging with Meco Bonsai and KIKU™ Tools, Superfly Bonsai now offers over 1,000 bonsai-related products to both the wholesale and retail market.
One of the best ways to learn about bonsai is to join a local bonsai club. Look for clubs and classes in your area to further your bonsai knowledge!