Northern Lights Azalea

val1(z4 UT)May 11, 2007

I would like to plant a couple of Northern Lights Azaleas, but I need some information first. How much light/shade do they need? I have a place on the east side of my shed but I am afraid they would get too much sun. It gets light in the spring from daybreak until noon or a little after. It might get a little shade from a tree during the summer or from the house during the early morning hours. I do have another place where I could put them. It is under cedar trees whose bottom branches we had to trim. It receives much less light. Also, can azaleas be prunned so that they do not get too wide? I would really appreciate any help because I fell in love with some that are mostly white with yellow throats and that smell heavenly. It was the smell that made me fall in love. Thanks.

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Hello, val1. Choosing a part shade location or varieties is not going to be the issue for you; many people in Zone 4 grow them so I will let them chime in regarding best varieties (Northern Lights, Iron Clads, etc). Your biggest problem is going to be meeting the requirements of rhododendrons by duplicating the places where they normally grow.

Planting soil needs to be acidic and must have good drainage (translation: cannot be clay soil). Utah relatives of mine and articles that I have read indicate that your soil is alkaline & low in organic matter but.... I am not sure if you have clay; check with a local nursery if you do not know. To compensate for less than adequate soil, you need to ammend the soil (compost, manure, peat) or use raised beds with acidic soil. Use zero local soil content if you have clay or caliche soil as the tiny plant roots cannot grow through these compacted soils.

Planting location will be important and you are on the right track with sun exposure. Protect them also from windy areas that can dry them during winter and summer. And do not expose them to the hot summer afternoon sun. Somewhere between 2-4 hrs is all they need. Dappled sun is perfect.

Do not select a location with a lot of traffic or places where garden equipment, garden projects and/or dogs will disturb their tiny roots. Protect them from deer if this is an issue where you live; deer think the flower buds are tasty...

Constant moisture, 3-4" of acidic mulch and good drainage are important, specially during your hot summers and during dry winters when the ground does not freeze. Until you get used to their appropriate watering schedule, check manually by inserting a finger 3-4" into the soil; if it feels dry, water. If it feels moist, leave them alone. If it feels wet, determine why they are getting too much water and take precautions. And remember to tweak the watering schedule as your seasons change.

When buying the plants that you are interested in, choose those good for zone 4 and inquire about their growth habits to make sure you get one that does not grow wide much. If it does, them compensate by pruning and deaheading. Pruning should be done once the flower show stops. By mid-summer, the plant begins to develop flower buds for the next year so pruning the plant at this time will chop off the flower buds.

I added a link below to an article to a Utah State University article. I hope this helps.


Here is a link that might be useful: Utah State University Info

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 5:19AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Hi Val1,

The Northern Lights series are deciduous azaleas and can take full sun. That would be better than competing with the roots of cedar trees.

They can be pruned after they bloom. They form new flower buds between mid spring and mid summer so prune immediately after they bloom to keep from loosing the next years flowers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Northern Lights Azaleas

    Bookmark   May 11, 2007 at 10:31AM
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