Garden Q&A: Azalea may not survive winter
Q: I just received an azalea plant as a gift for my mother-in-law's passing. I am thinking that it is too late to plant it. Correct? If so, what should I do with it over winter so that it doesn't die and I can plant it in spring? Thanks for your advice.
A: Unfortunately, there is a good chance your azalea won't make it. Florist's azaleas are grown in greenhouses and forced to bloom out of their traditional flowering season. More often than not, the plant is unable to survive because of the amount of energy required to force it to bloom. This is true of many flowering plants, including hydrangeas and bulbs such as tulips and hyacinths that are tricked into blooming when nature didn't intend them to.
Add to that the fact that most florist azaleas are not the same winter-hardy varieties growing in our yards and gardens, and you've got a very small chance of success. But, I have seen it happen. You never know and you have nothing to lose in trying to see it safely through winter.
Keep the plant indoors. Put it in a bright, cool location but not in direct sunlight. Water it whenever the pot feels light and dry (about every seven to 10 days) by removing the foil or basket around the pot and placing the entire plant in the sink. Fill the sink with water and let the pot sit immersed in water for a good five minutes. Then drain the sink and allow the pot to drain until water no longer runs out of the holes. Once it is drained, you can put the pot back into the foil or basket.
I suggest you grow it as a houseplant until spring and then, after the danger of frost has passed in mid-May, repot the azalea into a large, decorative pot using a high-quality potting mix. Put the container on a shaded or semi-shaded patio and enjoy it through summer. Fertilize the azalea once every four to six weeks with a granular or water-soluble organic fertilizer formulated specifically for evergreens. Come next fall, if you are interested in overwintering it again, move the pot indoors and continue to grow it as a houseplant.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to email@example.com or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers stalled by Seahawks, on outside of AFC wild-card picture
- Steelers’ Roethlisberger reported symptoms that led to his exit vs. Seahawks
- Rossi: It’s past time for NFL to protect players
- Family of man accused of shooting St. Clair officer say allegations don’t fit his character
- Steelers notebook: Seahawks’ Sherman gets better of WR Brown
- Week 12 — Steelers-Seahawks gameday grades
- Steelers players say they support Tomlin’s attempts at deception
- New Kensington man killed in North Buffalo crash
- Community comes together to mourn death of St. Clair police officer
- Muslim civil rights group seeks investigation into shooting of Pittsburgh taxi driver
- Sports Deli is latest tenant to say goodbye to Parkway Center Mall