Florist Azalea care
Azalea is one of the longer lasting indoor blooming plants you can buy. Most Azaleas purchased from florists and supermarkets are greenhouse grown and are hardy in zones 7-10. When choosing an Azalea, pick one with tight buds and healthy leaves which will extend your blooming time.
Azaleas are grown in well-drained acidic peat soil ph (5.5-6.0) for good water retention. Watering is one of the most important factors for extending the life of your Azalea. If the peat based soil is allowed to dry out it is difficult to rehydrate and therefore should be kept evenly moist. Check for watering daily. When the pot feels light or top layer is dry, water your plant.
Remove the decorative cover before watering to allow for drainage. Don’t let the roots sit in water, this can lead to root rot. Sometimes we forget to water and if the plant wilts, it can be rehydrated by placing it in a dish and soaking it for a few hours. It will perk up but will have signs of damage such as wrinkled,dry flowers, brown leaf tips and eventual leaf drop.
When watering use distilled or rain water. Avoid using hard water as it can change the soil ph.
Deadhead any wilted flowers and prune after the plant is finished blooming to promote new growth.
Keep your Azalea in a cool, indirect sunny area away from drafts or heating vents in room temperatures 60-70°F/16-21°C. Fertilize with 1/4 strength acid fertilizer (Miracle Grow, Muracid)
After bloom care
When your azalea is done blooming , it can be set outdoors. Plant it in partial shade (North or East exposure) after danger of frost has passed. Either sink the pot in the ground or plant it directly in well drained acid soil. Fertilize during the growing season with an acid fertilizer.
Before frost returns, dig up the plant and bring it indoors for the winter. Repot in fresh peat moss/potting soil. With a little luck, it should rebloom around Christmas.