Is it too late in the year to plant azaleas?

WAYNE_RSeptember 21, 2006

I live in Indianapolis, IN. Is it too late in the year to be planting azaleas? I figure it would take a couple weeks to order and receive the azaleas I want to plant. I would be getting them in the ground around the 1st of October.

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Azaleas can be planted anytime. Fall is a good time.

Whether to plant in spring or fall is always a question. Fall is normally the best time because roots on a new plant need help establishing themselves. The shallow root system can't take in all the water it may need to survive and a drought can spell disaster. Do not allow the soil to dry out but make sure they are planted in acidic soil with good drainage.

Mature plants are much hardier and Mother Nature seems to take good care of them under normal conditions. Care for new plants for 2-3 years to help them get established.

One problem with fall planting is that it makes a plant more susceptible to frost heave in climates where freezing and thawing cycles are common. In that case, rhododendrons are best planted in the spring. It must be noted that maintaining the proper moisture level in the summer is very difficult after spring planting.

When buying plants in the fall, it is risky to buy potted plants or balled and burlapped plants that were in a garden center all summer. It is best to buy field grown plants that are freshly dug.

Most rhododendron and azalea plants sold at nurseries and garden centers are sold in containers or have a root-ball that is covered with burlap. These plants have a potentially serious problem when the roots reach the container and start circling inside the pot. They become pot bound or root bound. These roots must be cut so they don't continue to grow and start strangling other roots. Many apparently healthy plants die when the roots start strangling each other. To prevent this, it is necessary to remove the plant from the container and cut the roots from the soil surface to the bottom at several points around the root ball to cut any of these circling roots. When working with roots, make sure the plant is thoroughly watered. Any roots that dry out will die.

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

    Bookmark   September 22, 2006 at 7:25AM
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How about in Connecticut. It's now real late here but I have several potted Azaleas, rhododendrons that I just never got around to planting. Dec 1st is right around the corner. What would be the best way to save them, or plant them now if possible?

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 9:11AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Plant them and mulch carefully if the ground is not frozen. You will need to watch them this winter for any frost heave problems. You may also have to water when the ground is not frozen if they get real dry. It is a good idea to protect them from winter wind and winter sun if possible.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2010 at 6:15PM
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