My husband and I visited one of the home improvement centers and a cart with several tiers of azaleas caught my eye. The sign read $3--a price I couldn't resist. The cashier said that the small ones were $1. Now, that's a bargain! Maybe. I wanted to know what was wrong with them. "Nothing," she said. "We've had them for a long time and we want to get rid of them before the new arrivals for spring."
We loaded up a dozen azaleas into the car and when we got home we started to think about all the places we could plant them. The azaleas that we already had were beginning to bloom and looked rather nice so we thought that we'd go back and get another dozen. After all, you can't beat that price, right?
We got a mix of "Fashion Azalea" and "Doc De Rohan Azalea (fancy name, eh?). The Fashion Azalea is supposed to produce an abundance of salmon pink flowers and the Duc's flowers are yellowish pink. The azaleas may not reach the promised size in my life time but they are supposed to be a healthy size at maturity. A gardener must be an optimistic visionary.
I gave the azaleas a good soaking and when I removed them from the pot, I whacked some of soil off the root system that were tight and somewhat root bound. Whack! Whack!
To plant the azaleas, it was suggested that I dig a hole twice the size of the pot that the plant came in and set the top of the root ball even with the ground. I added commercial cow manure to the soil, filled the hole, tamped it down, and watered to eliminate air pockets in the soil. I have four more to go.
The azaleas like somewhat acid soil and do well around pine trees and like pine straw as mulch. I am leaving fertilization until they have produced and dropped those wonderful pink blooms that I expect.
Also, it is recommended that no pruning take place until after the blooming period is completed. I usually even up the plants but leave the azaleas pretty much in the shape they tend to go and also considering next year's blooms--no severe pruning for these bushes.
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