Azaleas in Bloom

Autumn Sunset

This is a sponsored post, any opinions given are completely my own.

An exciting thing happened this week, the Southern Living Encore Azaleas began blooming! I was thrilled to see they are thriving after being in the ground a short time. If you remember, Southern Living sponsored this post earlier in the spring.

My plants are still in the early stages of development, and they are rather petite right now. That’s okay with me, I know they will do great things.

buds

I planted the azaleas according to the directions, and they have thrived all summer. We had steady rain this year, so I didn’t have to spend a lot of extra time watering which was nice.

The plants are covered with blossoms, I have been watching them every day waiting for them to bloom.

fertilizer

 

The biggest trick to being successful with Azaleas, is using a good fertilizer. I like the type that you just sprinkle down in the hole before you plant. Then you can add a bit more on the surface as needed. coffee grounds

My other secret ingredient, is coffee grounds. Lots of them!redAdd them to the roots of your plants about once a week. Azaleas like acidic soil, and it’s a great natural boost for your plants.

pink

I am thrilled to see that these blooms look just like the ones on the tag! I no longer have to sneak into my neighbors yard to covet his Azalea blossoms. This pink variety is called Autumn Twist.

red

It won’t be long and my neighbors will be sneaking into my yard to covet my beautiful Azaleas!

Thank you Southern Living!

How to Plant Azaleas

Azalea

This is a sponsored post, any opinions given are completely my own.

I was a happy camper earlier this week. I got a huge box full of beautiful Azaleas from Southern Living.  I love Azaleas, they are so colorful! We usually don’t see a lot of them here in Wisconsin.

Generally Azaleas like well drained acidic soil. There are some varieties you can get for the Northern Zones, we are a zone 5 here but I have found that many Zone 6 varieties do well if they are in a protected spot. Our neighbor has a big, beautiful Azalea bush, it was blooming not long ago and I trespassed into their yard to take this picture because it was completely breathtaking. Don’t you agree?

Autumn Sunset

 

The Southern Living Encore Azalea Collection is just as breathtaking. I chose two varieties for our yard, Autumn Sunset is a dwarf shrub with beautiful red blossoms about 2.5″ across. This plant will grow to be about 3 feet tall and 3.5 feet wide. It makes a good choice for landscape boarders.

The other variety I received is called Autumn Twist. This one gets bigger, 4.5 feet high and wide, with variegated pink and white blossoms.  I can’t wait for them to fill in this empty spot along the side of our house. It is very lacking in charm and color.

compost

 

The first step to planting is to lay out exactly where you want your plants to go. I have a vision of making this boarder wider next year, so I planned to have the azaleas near the back of the boarder. When designing a border, it’s a good idea to lay out a garden house to visualize where you want things to go. We have a small walking path that is covered with grass, so I didn’t do this step because the walkway will be the edge of our border. Another tip, look up before you plant. Be sure your plants are not so close to the foundation of the house that the sunlight and rain are obscured behind the overhang of the house. This is a common planting mistake that can keep your plants from being successful.

After putting the plants where I wanted them to go, I dug a hole for each one with a round point tip shovel 2x wider and deeper than the root ball. Then I added some composted material, filling the hole about half way. Compost is so healthy for your plants, especially if you have clay soil like we do.

coffee grounds

 

Azaleas are acid loving plants. The soil has to be acidic in order for them to bloom to their fullest. There are a number of ways you can have acidic soil, most of the time you will have to add some additional material to your soil. Adding compost is one way to increase acidity, there are many others.   My other choice for acid loving plants in this case is used coffee grounds. I added about 2 Tablespoons of grounds to each of the planting holes. If your not a coffee drinker I am sure you could get a bag full of them from your local Starbucks. Alternatively, you can add chemical fertilizers but I wouldn’t use them unless you are unsuccessful with other methods.

fertilizer

 

The final step before planting is to add some organic fertilizer. I use a pellet product that I sprinkle down in the hole before planting. It helps the roots develop quickly, then I fertilize only once a year if completely necessary. Most of the time, I find that I don’t need fertilizer at all once a plant is established in my organic garden.

leaves

 

Finally, it’s time to plant. These plants are lush and full as I take them out of their pots. Even without their blossoms, they make for an interesting landscape.  I spread the roots out before putting them into the hole, then fill in around the root bulb with soil and more compost. finished

 

On the Southern Living Encore Azalea website, they recommend planting the bushes slightly above the soil if you have clay soil. Fortunately for me that’s exactly what I did. The compost that I added on top of the roots is about 6″ thick for now, I will probably add more to them as they grow and we work on extending the brick border along the side of the house.

I can’t wait to see them in bloom!