What to do with 'holidays' azaleas after blooming?

haxuan(Vietnam)December 24, 2006

I bought a beautiful, blooming azalea at HD a month ago. The seller there said the plant was forced to bloom, so it would not survive outdoor conditions. I wonder if I can keep it as a houseplant after it finishes blooming. If yes, what should I do to it to make it healthy and possibly ... bloom again?

Thanks for your advice.

Happy Holidays.

Xuan (temporarily in Calif.)

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gardengal48

It can survive outdoor conditions, specially in milder climates. Greenhouse forced azaleas are regularly transitioned outdoors here and in most cases, will fare far better planted outside than attempting to grow it as a houseplant. The process is not at all dissimilar to transitioning florist's or greenhouse hydrangeas to the landscape.

Enjoy it for as long as you can indoors, providing bright light, a cool location and keeping the soil just moistened. If you intend to plant in California, once the blooming period is finished, acclimate it to the outdoors by placing it in a protected location (still in the pot) for a couple of weeks. Avoid any excessively cold temperatures - you may need to bring it in at night if low temperatures threaten. After this period, you can plant it out just as you would a nursery purchased plant - good drainage, organic, moisture retentive and acidic soil and with protection from hot afternoon sun. Make sure it gets enough but not too much water.

IME, these forced azaleas may not bloom again for a season or two - they seem to need the time to get their normal bloom cycle back on track - but they should be able to grow and bloom just as a typical, nursery purchased azalea.

Caveat: this process should work fine in milder zones - USDA 8 (perhaps 7) and up. I'd not guarantee similar success in colder climates.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2006 at 9:37AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Yes, I live in Zone 6 and virtually none of the florist azaleas will bloom if raised outdoors here. They are strictly house plants. The plants will live outdoors in some cases, but the flower buds are not hardy so they never bloom outdoors.

Florist Azaleas, and other greenhouse azaleas which are forced to bloom for special holidays, are varieties hybridized to be easy to propagate and easy to force into bloom at a precise time and with very showy foliage and flowers which tend to hold well. In most climates they do not do well outdoors and are considered to be houseplants.

If raised as house plants make sure they have very good drainage. The container must have good drainage in the bottom including a hole for water to escape the pot. The pot must be allowed to almost dry out before watering. If kept too wet, the azaleas will develop root rot.

They can be fed with an azalea food which will be slightly acidic. Never feed at more than half the rate on the plant food container. One possibility is Miracle-Gro® Water Soluble Azalea, Camellia, Rhododendron Plant Food.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2006 at 10:53AM
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haxuan(Vietnam)

Many thanks for all your valuable advice. Right now the plant still looks VERY GOOD. I'm keeping it outside, in its pot, but under cover and bringing it inside at nights when temperature goes lower than 35. But I know when I leave here next month, my daughter won't be able to take good care of it... so I need to know what the best way to go to keep this pretty plant.

Xuan

BTW - wish to share with you a pic of the plant.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2006 at 3:39PM
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anna_in_quebec(z4 QC)

I bought a "florist azalea" last spring, thinking the high price warranted buying it as I could then plant it outside. But I realized that this was not THAT type of azalea. So, I thought, oh well, nice flowers while they last - maybe I'll have to compost it afterward, as blooming again is unlikely, or so I had heard. But I researched some more, and this is what I did:

- after blooming was done, i repotted it, and brought it outside for the summer in a semi-shady spot
- I read that I should leave it outside right until fall, until the temps were just above freezing - so thats what I did
- when frost came, I brought it inside, and in November, much to my delight, I noticed flower buds forming - I have had flowers right through the holidays, and while it is not as floriferous as when I bought it, there are enough to make it quite lovely and worthwhile to have kept.

I am thinking that maybe if I had fertilized it during the summer, it may have produce more blooms. Maybe I'll try that this summer...

By the way, my indoor temps are rather cool in the fall/winter- 65 is a heatwave at my place! So maybe that encouraged the blooming?

I hope that helps!

Anna

    Bookmark   January 10, 2007 at 9:58AM
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