Azaleas, Rhododendron, Pieris and Mountain Laurel are all known as broad leaved evergreens. Special attention needs to be given to soil preparation if they are to thrive.
l. The east or north sides of buildings are better locations than the hot, sunny south or west sides. Azaleas (etc.) will grow in full sun if they are carefully watered during dry weather. This is especially necessary the first year they are planted.
2. Do not plant azaleas under maple, beech or black walnut trees. Maple and beech root very close to the surface and will compete for water and nutrients. Black walnut trees give off a toxin which will kill azaleas, and many other plants.
3. Even in wooded areas, peat moss should always be added to the soil before planting. This helps to loosen the soil, as well as make it more acidic. Never use lime on these plants. Mushroom soil and saw dust are not recommended.
4. Azaleas have only very fine hair-roots and need a loose, soft soil to grow into. Prepare a planting area several times larger than the ball on the plant by removing dirt from the hole and mixing it with peat. Return the mixed dirt to the hole and form a shallow planting hole in the soft dirt. Set the top of the root ball even with the top of the surrounding ground.
5. Water the plant well as soon as it is planted. It should receive a good soaking once a week, so, if it doesn't rain, you should water. Dry weather is especially hard on small azaleas.
6. An inch of mulch around your plants will be a big help in retaining moisture and keeping down weeds. Peat moss tends to dry out and blow away. Shredded bark or chopped-up oak leaves work much better.
7. Never cultivate close to azaleas. You will disturb their shallow root systems.
8. Use little or no fertilizer when planting. Very early in the spring (mid-March) scatter an acid fertilizer such as Holly Tone around your plants and water it in. They should be fertilized again after they have finished blooming, but never fertilize in the fall.
9. Generally, these plants do not require much pruning or trimming but any that is done should take place just after the blooms are over. The plants will then make new growth on which they will set buds for the following year.