With it’s beautiful blooms it’s no wonder the azalea is the number one must-have plant in the South. Azaleas need acid, well-drained, organically enriched soil that should neither get too dry nor remain soggy. Planting in heavy clay is a no-no: root rot often ensues, indicated by yellowing, wilting foliage and collapse of the plant. Planting in limy, alkaline soil is another mistake; lack of iron quickly results in chlorosis (yellow leaves with green veins). The recommended practice there is to build raised beds 15?18 in. deep and fill them with a half-and-half mixture of finely milled bark and coarse sphagnum peat moss (be sure to mix the two thoroughly with water before filling the beds). Plant azaleas and rhododendrons with the top of the root ball slightly above soil level. Don’t cultivate around these plants, as they have shallow roots. Because they absorb water through their foliage, wet both the leaves and root zone when you water.
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