Azaleas grow and flower best in moist soil. Dry soil is not considered appropriate for growing azalea plants. So, garden enthusiasts often ask; does azalea need a lot of water?
Yes, azalea needs a lot of water, enough to keep the soil constantly moist. Generally 4 liters or 1 gallon of water a week is enough to maintain optimal soil moisture.
The water requirements of azaleas can vary and depend on the location, climate, and season.
|Outdoor Azaleas (In the ground)
|In optimal outdoor conditions, your azalea plants will need a generous soaking of 4 liters of water. That’s only if there has not been rainfall in the last 14 days. If there has been rainfall recently, your azalea may require less water or no water.
|Indoor Potted Azaleas
|Watering once a week is usually enough for an indoor potted azalea. But, if the air is very dry indoors, watering may have to be increased to twice a week. The soil should be tested prior to watering to determine its condition.
|Newly Transplanted Azaleas
|New transplants require watering immediately after planting. Thereafter, you should water every second day for a week. Then twice or thrice a week for a few months should do it.
|Watering In Winter
|Generally, azaleas outside won’t need watering at all in winters. If placed indoors, occasional watering may be necessary.
Read on to find out more about azalea water requirements and how often to water these plants.
Watering Outdoor Azaleas
How often you should water azalea plants that are planted outdoors differs greatly from garden to garden. Physical or chemical variations in soil or the elements will influence azalea watering frequency.
Here are a few conditions that must be considered before deciding how often to water outdoor azaleas:
- Soil quality (ability for the soil to retain water)
- Time for the soil to fully drain
- Season and climate
- Sun exposure (mild to severe)
- Age of plant (established or newly transplanted)
Soils that drain fast require more watering while soils that drain slowly require less watering. Failing to abide by this principle could result in dry soil or very wet soil. Overly wet soil could even result in conditions that stimulate root rot disease in the plant.
Azaleas that are in naturally hot climates in the sun will require more water to avoid dehydration and death! But, azalea plants that are in colder climates don’t need as much watering.
If there has been rainfall in the last 14 days, watering may not be necessary at all. This is because the soil should be moist enough. Watering the plants during rainfall will lead to wet and unsatisfactory conditions for azaleas even if the soil drains well.
Watering Indoor Azaleas
One would think that azalea plants need less watering when indoors. This is because they are not receiving direct sunlight and are not in contact with the wind.
However, this is incorrect! These plants can still dry out pretty fast even if they are indoors.
The frequency of watering azalea plants indoors is not the same as the frequency of outdoor azalea watering. They require water more often due to the fast draining capacity of pots. As a result, the soil dries rapidly.
Watering once or twice a week should suffice to keep the soil moist and these plants happy and thriving.
Indoor plants can show more transpiration if the air indoors is pretty dry. Also, household conditions could heat up at night when all air currents are locked in.
How Often To Water Azaleas In Pots?
Azaleas are a popular plant for growing in pots whether it’s indoors or outdoors. One thing to be aware of is that potted plants tend to dry out fast. As a result, they require more constant watering than plants grown in the ground.
You will have to water them every 3 to 4 days to keep the soil moist. This adds up to watering potted azalea plants once or twice a week very generously.
Especially pots tend to dry fast, top to bottom. So, even if the pot is wet at the bottom half, it won’t count. Azalea plants have shallow roots which cannot reach down for water. You have to go out of your way to make sure that the top half of the pot is always moist.
Does Your Azalea Need Water? How you can notice?
All azalea plants will only thrive in moist soil. Anything less will not bring out the best in your plants and may even lead to poor growth. So, preventing and eliminating the chances of dehydration and dry soil is advisable.
But to start off here’s how to tell if your azalea needs water.
The first signs of lack of water will create physical symptoms in your azalea plants.
Sudden wilting and slight curling of leaves are the most evident signs of dehydration. Your azalea plants will require immediate watering to heal and grow normally.
Failure to do so especially in spring can lead to stunted growth. Depending on the extent of stunting, the plants may flower poorly or even not at all.
Catching the symptoms early and treating them by watering can be crucial to limiting and reversing the impacts.
Soil Dip Test
Alternatively, to find out if the soil is moist or dry you can perform a soil test.
To do this, place a finger into the soil to a depth of 4 inches. If the soil feels moist and your finger easily travels through the soil, it is moist. But, if you can’t get through the soil, it’s probably dry.
Alternatively, you can use a soil moisture sensor device to get accurate readings.
If the soil is dry you should water the plants immediately. Usually, a generous 4 liter/ 1 gallon of water would be enough to return the soil back to a moist status.
Why Are My Azaleas Drying Out Fast?
Are you watering your azalea plants quite generously only to find that they are drying out even faster? If this is the case, the season and watering frequency are not to blame!
There could be other underlying environmental factors as to why the plants require more watering.
Planted Nearby Tree Roots
Azalea tends to like being grown underneath the cover of tall trees. Especially since they cannot take direct sunlight and make a great undergrowth garden option. Tall trees act as a respite from intense sunlight.
However, these trees do also come with a disadvantage! The roots of the tree may interfere with those of the azalea.
We don’t mean there will be space issues, but there will be water issues. Water will be hard to come by for the azaleas if the tree’s roots are draining all of it.
This is especially true since azaleas have very shallow root systems. Plus they lack a typical tap root completely. Tree roots can penetrate very deep into the ground or even surface.
Soil does play a major role in controlling soil moisture. Too porous and the soil will always be dry. But, too much organic material or clay and it will always be too wet.
A balance between the two is necessary to make sure the soil does not dry out completely. If it does, your azaleas will be in danger! Keep soil moist enough by adding decent amounts of both sand and organic matter/clay.
You can use a pre-mixed soil that offers these desirable characteristics. We suggest using ‘Loam soil’. It comprises of three components – sand (40%) silt (40%), and clay (20%).
This is adequate since the equal amounts of clay and sand ensure good drainage but no drying out.
Steps To Retain Soil Moisture For Azaleas
In some seasons (spring and summer), temperatures are higher than normal and sun intensity is also high. This requires you to take extra precautions to avoid the soil drying out. As this will be likely to kill your azalea plants.
Let’s look at the steps that you can take to avoid this becoming a reality.
Apply A Layer Of Mulch
Mulch is a collection of organic matter that is usually useful for providing nutrients to the soil when it decomposes.
But, when it comes to plants like azaleas mulch has another use. Mulch can act as a way for the soil to retain moisture.
These nutrient-rich materials are capable of absorbing large volumes of water and slowly releasing it. This especially comes in handy in dry seasons like summer.
Drip Watering (Automated Watering)
Usually, azalea plants are watered once or twice a week (depending on seasons and certain conditions). But it is obvious that on extremely hot days something more is mandatory.
You may not be around 24/7 to make sure your azaleas are hydrated. Furthermore, if there is a heatwave, you might not want to make a trip outdoors!
That said, looking into an automated water drip (irrigation) system may be worthwhile.
The system can be triggered to release water when the soil moisture drops below a certain value.
Amend The Soil
In some cases, soil drying is a direct cause of poor soil characteristics. Bettering the soil usually means you will also be improving the moisture retention abilities of the soil.
But, how can you do this? It’s quite simple, all you have to do is add more water-retaining components.
Items you can use are compost or bark chips, both absorb lots of water and hold it in the soil.
Another overlooked way to keep the soil moist enough for azalea plants is to eliminate all the competition. By competition, we don’t mean the plants growing next to or near your azalea. We mean weeds!
Weeds can be troublesome and steal important nutrients and water from your azalea plants. Both have shallow roots and unfortunately, azaleas will not win this battle without your help.
Remove all the weeds that are growing near, beneath, or intertwining with your azaleas.
Azalea flowers and plants make a great garden plant if you know how to look after these plants well. An important part of caring for them involves adequate watering. This applies in terms of water amount and frequency of watering.
Azalea placed in different locations (indoors/outdoors) have different watering requirements. Thus, the amount of water needed also varies greatly. You have to assess your soil’s draining abilities and the climate before watering.
Usually watering once or twice a week is the norm for potted azaleas. Outdoor azaleas in summer are satisfied with a generous 4-liter watering every week.
Need neighbors for your azalea plants? These are the best Azalea companion plants.
After planting you should water azalea plants immediately. These plants need extra water and care until their root system fully develops. After planting and watering, keep providing water every day or every second day. The frequency thereafter depends on soil and climate. But, watering should be enough to keep the soil moist.
Yes, azaleas can be overwatered. Providing too much water, excessive rainfall, and poor soil drainage can contribute to azalea overwatering. As a result, the roots of the azalea can start to rot! Soil should always be moist but not wet or water-logged.