Azaleas for acidic soil
Azaleas are acid-loving plants that are a sub-set of the rhododendron family, producing long-lasting flowers in a variety of colours that clothe the entire bush through the spring. They may be evergreen or deciduous and are generally smaller growing than other rhododendrons. Azaleas are easy to grow and shade tolerant, making them the ideal plant to grow under a canopy of trees or to add instant impact and colour to drab areas of the garden. They have shallow roots, require well-drained soil and tend to be fairly slow growing. They are perfect for container growing, in an ericaceous compost, which will provide the acidic conditions they prefer.
For a show stopping flower during the spring and summer, we recommend Azalea ‘Golden Eagle’ with its large, trumpet-shaped orange-yellow flowers which emerge from tight trusses of red buds. During the autumn, its pale green foliage takes on a brilliant shade of bronze and purple. The Diamond Red Japanese Azalea is a great choice as a dwarf azalea, producing an abundance of red blooms during April and May. Pinch out faded flowers with finger and thumb to help encourage a second flush of colour and trim after flowing to encourage a bushy growth habit. For best results, apply a generous 2 inch (5cm) mulch of organic matter each year to improve soil nutrients in late spring or early autumn. For larger-growing plants with leathery evergreen leaves and bigger blooms, see our rhododendrons category.