Growing Azaleas in Shade & more Q's

the_pumpkin_queen(z7 Arkansas)March 30, 2006

There is a shady spot, about 10x12 inbetween our privacy fence and storage shed that I wanted to liven up...since there is absolutely nothing growing there. I really wanted something pretty that blooms and is perenniel but the nurseries I went to said I couldn't get anything to flower if it was in the shade and I wound up coming home with a pretty (but not exactly wht I was hoping for) evergreen shrub.

Today while I was at Walmart I saw a gorgeous azalea (Fashion) and got it...this was exactly what I was looking for-very showy, but it says it can only take partial shade on the tag. The spot its going in is full shade and I did a little checking online and it says some varieties can be grown in shade. Is this one of them?

I think its so pretty and I want to do everything I can to make it thrive in its little spot. Also can these be pruned up a bit to have just trunks at the bottom and the foliage and blooms at top?

Thank you!

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

I don't think you'll be pleased with the performance of your azalea in the site you describe - dense full shade between two structures.

Too much shade is a common reason for failure of rhododendron and azalea to bloom - some sun, or at least bright light is required to set flower buds. There are some that can be planted in the dense shade provided by a building if that site is quite open away from the building thus providing bright indirect light; even then it would be practical to expect reduced flowering, possibly leggy growth.

Better to find another spot for your Fashion -

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 2:25PM
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Most azaleas need at least 4 hours of some sun (morning sun is good) to get enough energy to bloom.

You can try it in that spot, but if you get no blooms next year then you'll know what happened and you can move it to a sunnier place.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 2:28PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Azaleas only bloom for a couple weeks. If you want a flowering azalea in the shade, plant it in a large pot. Put it in a partially sunny area after the blooming season. It will set new buds. Then in the fall you can move it to the shady area and it will bloom beautifully and the flowers will last longer. Then after it blooms, move it back and start over. Make sure the pot is burried or heavily mulched when you get freezing weather.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2006 at 9:45PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

If considering a container approach, do you have summer humidity with your heat?

The old rhody 'bible', Sunset Guide to Rhodys and Azaleas Complete Edition, says of container culture in hotter climates that are not dry, as I am imagining Arkansas to be (never having been there) -

"Where summer rainfall coincides with hot, humid weather, gardeners should consider rhododendrons or azaleas in containers a strictly experimental project. Special attention must be paid to the aeration of container mixture; without this consideration plants in containers may decline from suffocated roots or common attacks of rhododendron wilt fungus which thrives in warm damp conditions as a watered container. For these reasons the grower should employ quantities of coarse-textured materials to provide ample air space between 'soil' particles like coarse bark chips. Planting in tubs or other oversized containers will greatly improve choices of unfavorable heat/moisture conditions found in smaller pots."

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 12:42AM
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the_pumpkin_queen(z7 Arkansas)

The spot gets some sun early in the morning, a few hours...will this be enough to keep the flowers going a bit? I really want to make this work, even if I have to pot it up and bury it!
And should I use the azalea food now or wait? And which brand is best?
Thanks so much for all the info!
And while AR has its humid moments it can get very dry here in the heat of summer!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 4:57AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

What I like to do with containers is to use a large container and line the outside and bottom with gravel. Also, there must be hole(s) in the bottom for drainage. Then put in good soil; I like "peat humus" for my rhodies. The gravel on the outside must not be mixed with the soil. It is there to provide drainage and aeration.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2006 at 8:05PM
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triciae(Zone 7 Coastal SE CT)

I'm getting the feeling you're expecting your azalea to bloom throughout the season. Rhodyman was will only bloom for a couple weeks no matter how perfect your spot is....that's the nature of most blooming shrubs. They bloom once/year and the flowers last for a couple weeks. More sun will not create more flowers after the spring bloom. But, too little sun will result in poor bud formation for the following spring bloom period.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2006 at 12:03PM
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the_pumpkin_queen(z7 Arkansas)

Oh no, I know they aren't eternal bloomers but for spring, I would like it to show its stuff :) I really like the foliage on it as well, since its not green.
I just want to do everything right for it so it will bloom next year and be healthy.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2006 at 3:25AM
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A single azalea isn't always all that great, anyway. If the area is quite shady, have you considered a combination of shade-loving true perennials combined with a few shrubs? The individual plants will typically be much smaller than the Fashion shrub itself but masses of several types of plants can provide bloom for months. Hellebores do well, have evergreen foliage and hold their blooms for over 2 months for me, Jan or Feb through early April. Lots of other perennials bloom in spring and summer in shade. Go to Shade Forum or books or websites on shade gardening.

I do grow azaleas in large containers, also camellias, and move them just as the rhodyman said. Beautiful camellia kept in a part-sun area most of the year gets moved to right outside den window in Jan when in full bloom. You do have to be sure not to use a container too big to move (I have some on casters but others just heave ho), and so smaller azaleas such as Gumpo series work well for that (Fashion is sort of medium size).

    Bookmark   April 6, 2006 at 8:06PM
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wanna_garden(z7 Georgia)

I'm new to gardening too, and don't know a whole lot, but I'd second the advice of planting a shade garden there instead. It sounds like it might be a pleasant spot to escape to when the summer gets good and hot. There are alot of shade loving perrenials that would better jazz that particular site up, and provide much more than a week or two's enjoyment. Ferns and hostas can provide year round foliage interest, bleeding hearts, astilbes I think like full shade as well. Eh, maybe not astilbes, check that one to be sure. Hellebores like shade, but they bloom in winter or very early spring. Hydrangeas, woodland phlox, columbine, japanese anemones, begonias, solomon's seal, geraniums...

Check each one individually, as I am new and could be mistaken on a few of them, but I think most of these will like full shade. Those which can't tolerate the full shade, could be planted at the entrance to the area.

And as someone else suggested, what doesn't do well there, can probably be moved later.

I have a similar spot, which is actually beneath a 2nd story porch. Well, we have a raised ranch, which means our bottom floor is basement/garage, and to reach the front door you go up a full flight of steps. These lead to a long front porch, which is blocked from much sunlight by existing boxwoods. But some sun does creep in through the side, and I am studying it now to see which spots there get more sun that other spots. My daughters like to play there, because the spot stays relatively cool in the summer. So I am planting hostas and elephant ears there ---oh!! Caladiums grow fine in the shade, and can brighten a spot up very nicely with their many colors and variegation. But you'll have to dig the bulbs or tubers up every fall, and replant them every spring. Also coleus, though an annual, is cheap and very colorful. I believe they like full shade just fine.

Another idea, is it may be a good out-of site spot for your compost piles, if you plan on starting one.

On the subject of azaleas, I have three waiting to plant, but I too am worried about light conditions. I have a couple of spots that never receive direct sun, but they do receive plenty of general daylight. That is sufficient, yes? If not, I can plant them where they'd receive a few hours of sun every morning, but I'd really prefer them in that other no direct sun spot, if possible. Someone above confirmed that daylight enough should be good, but just to reconfirm, it will still flower just as fully without direct sun?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 4:24PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

No, some sunlight is necessary for most azaleas to bloom. General daylight without sun is shade. It is also usually blue which is not the best frequency to promote flower buds. You are much better off with dappled shade in which some sunlight gets through. I have some azaleas on the north side of our house, but our house is tilted slightly to the west so the north side of our house gets morning sun every day in Spring and Summer. They bloom just great. If you really want to grow them in shade, try it. If it doesn't work, they are easy to move. Many people keep moving azaleas looking for better spots. If done carefully, they move easily since they are shallow rooted.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 9:07AM
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wanna_garden(z7 Georgia)

Thank You Rhody. I don't really know what you're talking about, lol -light frequency?- but I do get the general idea. I appreciate the response, as I am sure I would have planted them there otherwise. I unfortunately have no dappled sunlight. Newer construction, you know, no real trees, dammit. I was also thinking maybe under the porch, but I've been under there alot the last few days, and I've come to the conclusion that once the crape myrtle on the west side starts leafing out, what limited sunlight reaches through now no longer will. Ah well, back yard it is. Needed something there too anyway, so it all works out.

Incidentally, I happened to just catch your posting regarding 6th best gardening site on the web. Pretty cool! I don't blame you at all for your excitement. That is an accomplishment to be quite proud of. I took a short visit, and saved it for future reference, though I don't think I'll be able to plant any more of these, since I haven't good conditions for them. Ah, but what I meant to say is that it certainly looks as though you put alot of time and hard work into it. Congratulations!

Again thanks for the response. As the azalea/rhododendron expert, I guess you know what you're talking about!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 12:32PM
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If you do not like the way that Azalea performs, why don't you consider planting both male and female Aucuba japonica 'Picurata'?

This shrub loves the shade. works well in your zone, and has wonderful green leaves with yellow centers. This shrub has inconspicuous purple, small star-shaped flowers in spring. It grows 4-6 feet tall and wide. The Picturata Aucuba is a great shrub for brightening up a dark area and it can be sheared as easily as the more commonly used holly shrubs. It keeps its leaves year round.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 8:52PM
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nanahanna(a8 AR)

I like Acuba 'Gold Dust' for shady areas too. Looks good all winter here. It is cold and overcast here is a shot of some of my azaleas blooming their butts off in dappled sun/shade:

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 3:29PM
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I have what i believe is a dwarf azalea that i planted near our pool a few years ago. It seemed to do ok, putting out pretty flowers in fall and spring. but only for a few weeks here in the spring. I live in zone 7, northern Alabama and right now we are and have been in a drought for quite some time. The little azalea looked sort of bad after the easter frost and I managed to get it to a workable stage by just letting it bloom off the old wood. It is in an acid soil since we have nearby Pine trees and I have mulch around it but not directly on the base of it.
Now we finally got some halfway decent rain ( I was keeping it watered and it is in direct sunlight most of the day.) Today I noticed all of a sudden it's foliage is almost gone. It didn't have much, but I was getting somwhere with it. I looked down and saw a great big cut worm? I guess. Some ugly worm on one of the small stems and as I looked even farther it looked like it had just had quite a meal of the few leaves that it was able to put back out. I don't know what to do. I am partial to it because I got it from someone when my son passed away 5 years ago. Can I dig it up and put it somewhere else, like partial sun / shade? Should I put it in a pot and try my luck with it that way. Should I even try to save it? Should I just give up and get rid of it? I'm not that familiar with Azaleas although they've been around these parts all my life. I just never had any of my own until this one to care for. I just don't know what to do. Any suggestions will be appreciated and thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 6:36PM
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