Stillwater News Press


March 17, 2012

In the Garden 03-18-12

My eye loves the tidy, dark green mounds of the traditional azaleas. Topped in red, purple, pink and white blossoms, this shrub is hard to beat in semi-shaded positions.

All azaleas are in the genus Rhododendron, though numerous species bring great variance. Today I am addressing evergreen azaleas with small, glossy foliage.

Most of these hybrids, available at garden centers, are bred from species that have Japanese and Chinese heritage. They are very cold hardy with small to medium flowers.

Be careful not to confuse these with florists’ azaleas; florists’ azaleas cannot survive outdoors except in coastal or semi-tropical regions.

Spring blooms would not be complete without an old-fashioned azalea show. Azaleas are one of the most dependable and beautiful shrubs for shaded or morning sun only locations. I have found that lack of success growing azaleas can be traced back to the handling — particularly transplanting — more than any other factor.

Azaleas have a fibrous root system. Their roots consist of thousands of fine threadlike roots in a mass called the root ball.

Most people envision plant roots as a branched structure with a tap root and side roots tapering down to fine feeder roots. When traditional root systems remain in containers for extended periods, the roots wind and turn within the pot. Transplanting requires breaking up the root ball to allow the roots to anchor themselves deep in the soil.

Pot bound azalea roots don’t turn; they simply increase in density. Breaking into the root ball of an azalea, in my experience, is the beginning of a slow death. Because the death takes months, gardeners attribute the loss to cultural practices or a blanket statement that azaleas won’t grow here.

To successfully transplant an azalea (best done in fall or spring), take a sharp kitchen knife and cut off the bottom inch of the root ball. Place the plant, as is, in a slightly larger hole, mixing a half a cup of cottonseed meal in as you back fill with soil. The soil of the root ball should be level with the ground’s surface, no deeper. Water thoroughly to settle the soil.

Maintenance on azaleas is minimal. I water my shrubs about every 10 days. Pruning is rarely necessary. Pinching the tips of new growth after bloom will keep your shrub full and well rounded. Apply high phosphorus, acidic fertilizer in September to help insure a healthy soil pH and bud set for spring’s bloom.

Next week: encore azaleas.

LeeAnn Barton, Stillwater, can be emailed at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • In the Garden 07-27-14

    Quercus is the Latin name for oak. It is a quirky name; some believe its roots came from the Celtic word for “fine tree.” Anyone familiar with oaks knows they are indeed fine trees.

    July 26, 2014

  • Farmers Market

    The Stillwater Farmers Market is open every Monday at Stillwater Medical Center from 2-5:30 p.m. and every Wednesday and Saturday in Strickland Park at the corner of Hall of Fame Avenue and Main Street from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    What’s at market this week?

    July 23, 2014

  • Grow! 07-20-14

    Roses are a beautiful addition to any garden and landscape. They come in a variety of colors that enhance your yard. However, like other plants, roses are susceptible to disease. One that seems to hit roses the hardest is rose rosette disease caused by the rose rosette virus.

    July 19, 2014

  • Seed to Table 07-20-14

    Weed control is an important part of food production. So, I recently undertook an effort to rid my pastures of a particularly noxious weed.

    July 19, 2014

  • In the Garden 07-20-14

    Mulch is full of purpose. What it lacks in mystery, it makes up in function. Mulch contributes to healthy gardens. No one ponders or debates it, yet many do not take the time to mulch.

    July 19, 2014

  • Farmers Market 07-17-14

    The Stillwater Farmers Market is open every Monday at Stillwater Medical Center from 2-5:30 p.m. and every Wednesday and Saturday in Strickland Park from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    July 17, 2014

  • Grow! 07-13-14

    If you have no space outdoors for a garden, don’t despair because you can still grow something consumable. Bean sprouts are the easiest and fastest crop to grow.

    July 13, 2014

  • In the Garden 07-13-14

    “Where’s the relief?” That is what I’ve been thinking all week in the garden. I water, wondering if the mist is going to cool or cook the plants. I assumed the last thing anyone would consider this week is planting — anything!

    July 13, 2014

  • Farmers Market 07-10-14

    What’s at market this week?
    Fruits and veggies: Bell peppers, beets, blackberries, cabbage, carrots, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green beans, jalapenos, leeks, new potatoes, onions, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes and watermelon
    Baked goods: Biscotti, cakes, cinnamon rolls, cookies, muffins, pies, scones and turnovers

    July 10, 2014

  • Grow! 07-06-14

    Sometimes it can be hard to step out of your comfort zone. This is true for clothing selection, restaurant choices and even the types of plants and shrubs you put in your landscape.

    July 5, 2014

Buy & Share Photos
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Must Read