Azalea Tips for Inside the Home
Indoor azaleas are beautiful when they are blooming, and when cared for properly will bloom for weeks.
They are grown in greenhouses as they are not hardy, and are available in the garden centre now, to add colour to the home, or give as gifts. The flowers grow in clusters, and the funnel shaped flowers can be either single or semi-double. The flowers come in shades of red, white, pink, coral and bi-colours. The flowers are found on the ends of woody stems that are covered with small, green, oval shaped leaves.
For long-lasting blooms, first choose a plant that is just beginning to flower. Look for a plant that has lots of unopened buds and a few that are opening. The plant should have lots of green healthy foliage. Avoid plants with yellow, withered or dropping foliage. Place the plant in a cooler area of the home where temperatures are 12-15 Celsius, as cooler temperatures prolong the blooming time. Another option would be to place the plant in a cooler space (not freezing) during the night and bring it back where it can be enjoyed during the day. Avoid placing the plant near drafts, heating vents, etc., as this can cause the foliage and buds to shrivel and turn brown. Also, keep it well watered. Azaleas are grown in an acidic soil, that contains a lot of peat which dries out more quickly then regular indoor soil, so check your plant on a daily basis and keep it moist but not soggy. If it dries out the buds and leaves will shrivel and fall off, but if it is too wet, the plant will also be harmed.
Azaleas enjoy lots of bright, indirect light, such as a south window in the winter or an east or west window during the summer months. They also like a moderate to high humidity, which is not always available in our Northern climate. Placing the plant top of a water filled pebble tray, where the water level is just below the top layer of pebbles, will help keep the humidity high around the plant.To keep the plant looking neat and tidy, remove the finished flowers as they occur, by gently pulling them off the plant. While in bloom, fertilize the plant with a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 12-36-12 monthly.
It is not always easy to get an azalea to re-bloom again. Place it in a cooler area of the home and continue to water it and treat it like you would any of the other houseplants. Keep the plant evenly shaped, by pruning back any stray branches. Pruning the plant in mid-summer will also encourage branching out and a fuller looking plant, which will also mean more flowers.The plant can be planted outdoors in a shaded area, in late spring, after all risk of frost has passed.
Continue to keep it watered, and fertilize regularly with an all-purpose 20-20-20 throughout the summer months. In early fall, before the first killing frost, dig up the azalea and replant it into a clay pot, that is one size larger than the pot it was formerly in. For the buds to set place the plant in a cooler, well lit area (5-10 Celsius) of the home. After the buds have set, in a couple of months, the plant can be placed in a warmer area of the home to be enjoyed.