How to grow azaleas in Perth

Growing azaleas in Perth

Azaleas are a fantastic addition to any West Australian garden. Azaleas are a much loved flowering shrub, which come in a wide range of colours and heights. Most azaleas are long flowering and can also be grown in pots making them incredibly versatile. If you are looking for a punch of colour in winter and spring then you can’t go past Azaleas

If you have ever wondered how to grow azaleas in Perth then look no further. Azaleas are a relatively easy flower to grow, and there are a few tricks to successfully growing azaleas in Perth, Western Australia. Get these right and you will be laughing.

When to plant azaleas in Perth:

The best time to plant azaleas in Perth is in spring and autumn, when temperatures are cool. But if you buy in spring when the azaleas are blooming, you can check out the colours of the flowers before buying. Summer planting can be done, but you’ll have to water more frequently during hot weather and look to protected until they are established.

Where do azaleas grow best?

Plant in an area of semi-shade. Shade beneath an open-branched tree will work nicely. Azaleas will grow in more open situations, and they prefer the morning sun. However, deciduous azaleas will grow in full sun in cooler areas in the southern parts of Australia.

How much water do azaleas need?

In the cooler months here in Perth watering once a week is sufficient. In summer however and in periods of extended heat regular watering every couple of days will be required. As a rule of thumb if you are in doubt, check the soil at a depth of around 10cm. If it’s dry it needs watering.

How big do azaleas grow?

Typically azaleas will grow around 150cm tall and 150cm wide so be sure to give them plenty of room to stretch out as they mature.

Types of azaleas in Australia:

Below is a list of some of the more popular varieties of azaleas;

  • Azalea Alba Magna – Tall growing variety, with large, single white blooms. Slightly scented, mid season flowerer.
  • Azalea Alphonse Anderson – Large, single pink flowers of soft pink, edged white, with a deep rose throat. Tall growing, mid season flowerer.
  • Azalea Blue Moon – Blue-pink flowers are held over winter and into spring. A compact bush that loves a shady or early morning sun position.
  • Azalea Charlie – Double pink blooms are held in late winter and early spring. Lover of shade and early morning sun.
  • Azalea Dogwood – A prolific flowering variety with clusters of single, comes in a red or white flowering variety. Flowers in late season. Medium sized bush.
  • Azalea Elsa Karga – Double, glowing red blooms. Medium height.
  • Azalea Exquisite – Sun hardy, single flowers – lilac pink with red throat. Tall and vigorous grower.
  • Azalea Fielder’s White – Tall growing with single white scented blooms. Sun hardy.
  • Azalea Goyet – Tall grower, with large, brilliant red, double flowers. Flowering mid to late season.
  • Azalea Honey Bunch – White, hose in hose type flowers, blending into deep salmon pink on the edges and tips. Mid season flowerer.
  • Azalea Kirin – Compact, small shrub, covering itself with small, rosy pink blooms.
  • Azalea Mrs Kint White – Single white flowers, on a low growing, compact bush.
  • Azalea Phoenicea – Tall growing, mid season flowering variety. Large, single, violet-rose flowers.
  • Azalea Purple Glitters – Single glowing purple blooms. Compact small to medium shrub.
  • Azalea Red Wing – Popular variety with bright red, semi double, hose in hose flowers. Growing to medium height, flowering in mid season.
  • Azalea Scarlet Gem – Late flowering variety with bright red hose in hose flowers. Medium height.
  • Azalea Violacea – Double, violet-purple flowers. Medium sized grower, flowering early season.

How to grow azaleas at home:

Growing azaleas at home in the garden is pretty straightforward.

  1. Choose a spot in the garden for your azalea with semi-shade and that gets protection from the harsh afternoon sun. Enrich the soil with a dynamic lifer and soil improver. If the soil is clay based, add gypsum and mix in well.
  2. Dig the planting hole for your azalea twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball. Remove the shrub from the pot, gently tease the roots.
  3. Position in hole and back-fill, gently firming down the top soil. Form a raised ring around the plant, creating a well so that water will go where it’s needed most at the base of the azalea roots. Water in well.
  4. Mulch around the base with organic mulch like bark chips or straw, keeping it away from the main stem of the azalea to avoid diseases.
  5. Feed every 1-2 weeks with a liquid plant food suited for flowers.

Growing azalea in a pot:

You don’t need a large space to have your very own azaleas. Growing azaleas in pots is easy, fun and rewarding! In general growing azaleas in pots is a great idea. Below are the steps on how to how to grow azaleas in a pot;

  1. Choose a pot at least 60cm wide. Position in semi-shade location out of the hot afternoon sun and fill with quality potting mix.
  2. Remove the shrub from the pot it was purchased in and, gently tease the roots.
  3. Position the azalea in a hole in the new permanent pot and backfill, gently firming down. Water in well.
  4. Feed every 1-2 weeks with a liquid plant food suited for flowers.

How to grow azaleas from cuttings:

Azaleas are easy to grow from cuttings taken during the spring or summer months.

  1. Use sharp, clean secateurs to take cuttings of new growth. Select your cuttings from a healthy plant. The best time to take the cuttings is early morning or late afternoon (not peak sun). Keep the cuttings cool and moist until you are ready to use them, by placing them in moist paper towel in a cooler or esky, or stand them in a jar of water.
  2.  Fill a clean, recycled pot or a seed tray with propagating mix which you can find at your local nursery or Bunnings.
  3. Take cuttings about 10cm long, and trim the base of the stems just below a node. The nodes placed in the soil will form roots while the ones above the ground will produce leaves. Remove any flower buds and all except about two leaves as this will help conserve energy for growing roots. If the remaining leaves are large, cut them in half to reduce moisture loss and to allow the cuttings to fit easily in the propagating pot. I recommend dipping the stems into a rooting hormone to increase the chance of success.
  4. Using a stick or pencil, make a hole in the propagating mix and insert each cutting. Add a label with the plant name and the date.
  5. Water the cuttings then cover them with a mini greenhouse made from bent wire and a clear plastic bag. Keep the cuttings out of direct sun. Check them occasionally and water them if they are dry.
  6. When the cuttings form roots after 1-2 months transplant them into individual pots, and gradually move them into a more well lit location. Once the plants have hardened off they can then be planted in larger pots or directly into the garden.

When do azaleas flower in Australia:

Typically azaleas flowers emerge in spring and summer in Australia.

Best fertiliser for azaleas:

Azaleas do not require excessive fertilising to produce their best. However, managed applications throughout the year is a good idea. You want to feed your azaleas first at planting, secondly in mid winter, and finally after flowering.

One of the best fertilisers for azaleas in my opinion is Richgro All purpose Gardenia, Azalea And Camellia Fertiliser. Follow the instructions on the label for best effect.

When to prune azaleas in Australia:

If you are wondering when and how to prune azaleas in Australia the answer is spring between October and November for new growth azaleas.

  1. First put on your safety equipment for gardening. Safety glasses and gardening gloves are recommended.
  2. The first cut is a thinning cut, where the entire limb is removed back to a side branch.
  3. The second cut is the heading cut, where a part of a branch is removed,leaving a stub where new growth can begin.
  4. Remember not to remove more than one third of the plant at any one time.

Companion plants for azaleas:

Looking for what to plant with azaleas in Australia. The obvious choices as companion plants for azaleas are those of the same cultural requirements class such as Camellias, Rhododendrons, Deutzias, Gardenias, Daphne, Philadelphus, Pieris, Erica and Gordonia etc. These all fit into the acid-loving class.

Where to buy azaleas in Perth:

Azaleas are sold in flower at nurseries at the start of summer (December and January). You can even find Bunnings azaleas at this time.

Azalea problems:

Azaleas are susceptible to a wide range of pest and diseases. However in the the right environment should be for the most part are disease and pest free. Lace bugs, rust, powdery mildew, petal blight, and leaf gall all can occur on azaleas. Treat as needed to ensure a health plant.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

Leave a comment