Plain Gardening: Planting Azaleas

It’s January…time to sit inside by the fire looking over the seed catalogs for this year, right?

Well, maybe not. Gardening expert Bill Finch says that on the Gulf Coast, January is one of the best times to plant! Bill is busy now planting a beautiful azalea called Fantastique—one of the Aromi azaleas being propagated by Maarten Van Der Giesen.

In January, the soil stays moist longer, so neglectful gardeners get a break from too much watering. Bill cautions that many people plant too deep…and while a great plant needs a great hole, it should be about width rather than depth. Don’t dig deeper than the pot, for example. Bill cuts around the area he’s planting with a spade to cut stray roots, then uses a garden fork to move enough dirt aside so he can drop in the azalea. If the roots are bound, you can cut around the edges with a knife.

Set the planting ball in the hole and break up the edges. The top of the root ball should be proud of the ground by an inch or two. Put mulch on top—not on the sides or bottom—and water it in. If rain is in the forecast, you don’t even have to do that!

Learn more on Bill’s call-in radio show Sunday mornings on 106.5FM or email Bill also teaches gardening classes at Mobile Botanical Gardens.


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