Zone 6 azaleas?

cymraes(8)April 4, 2007

I could never grow Azaleas when we lived in California, now we are in Idaho and my husband brought home a beautiful azalea plant. Would this even survive here, or how would it do if I put in in a very large planter on our deck?

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

It's a little early in the season for most azaleas to be described as beautiful - Is this a blooming plant from the florist? If so, it wouldn't likely survive your winter. You could try growing it in dappled shade on your patio in summer and putting it in a cool room/garage/porch in winter, but Idaho can present some PH problems of both water and soils for azaleas. It's my understanding that much of Idaho soil is more alkaline than acid...is that true of your area?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:38PM
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cymraes(8)

He bought it at Costco. I know our soil in California wasn't acidic enough. I'm not sure of the alkalinity of our soil here in Idaho. But I was thinking it may grow in a pot on our North porch in the summer and I could move it to my sunroom for the winter.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 10:50PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Still a bit of a puzzle. I was in Costco today and they had both budded rhododendrons (hardy), and blooming azaleas that had been forced for Easter (florist trade).

In the absence of a soil test, do any of your neighbors grow azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, blueberries that look like they are thriving? Sometimes what is going on next door or on your block can be a good indication - but if you are in the Southern part of the state with cold winters, hot summers and little rainfall, there is a good chance your soil is alkaline.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 3:57AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

As Morz said, you plant is probably a house plant. However, there are zone 6 azaleas. If you live in the mountains I would guess you soil may be suitable. If you live in the more arid prairie region then it may be more alkaline.

Evergreen azaleas are sometimes difficult to get started in zone 6. Deciduous azaleas come in very hardy varieties and have very bright colors. You might check them out this spring. Also, there are many hardy rhododendrons for your area.

You will be facing several problems.

1) If you have alkaline Soil. Raised beds are the best solution for this. Rhododendrons and azaleas have shallow roots, so a raised bed that is 12 to 15 inches high is normal. Use a good acidic soil that is well drained.

2) If you have alkaline Water. The raised bed won't help if you use alkaline water. Use only rain water including water collected in cisterns or neutralized water.

3) Winter wind and sun. These are serious problems. A wind break and some winter shade are necessary. Summer sun is not trivial either. Some summer shade is necessary.

4) Hardy plants. All azaleas and rhododendrons have a characteristic hardiness. Winter hardiness and summer hardiness are both important. They usually go together.

Here are some interesting references:

Gardening challenges for newcomers to Colorado (Colorado Extension)

Iron chlorosis (Colorado Extension)

Growing Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Missouri Extension)

Azalea and Rhododendron Care and Culture (Oregon State University)

Here is a link that might be useful: How to grow rhododendrons and azaleas.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 9:41AM
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cymraes(8)

Thanks for everyone's advice. I think it probably is a houseplant. It is about 3' tall with a braided trunk and lots of flowers. I think I'll put it in a big pot and put on our north porch for the summer. We are in West Central Idaho, soil is rather rocky. Hot, dry summers and fairly mild winters. We're about 100 miles N. of Boise. I guess I need to get our soil tested to be sure.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 12:03PM
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