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Azaleas are getting ready to set gardens on fire. The fluorescent shades of this plant’s hallmark blooms tend to make a near-instant impact on the landscape. Though a signature of the South, azaleas—classified in the genus Rhododendron—thrive on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.
There are thousands of azalea varieties, evergreen or deciduous. The former is known for purple and red blooms, while the latter features shades of pink, orange, and red. Evergreens prefer partial shade, and they flower and finish faster. Deciduous azaleas need full sun but last through the summer. Note also that multi-season blooming specialties have hit the market, courtesy of breeder Encore Azalea.
Plant your azaleas in well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Depending on the variety, plant in either full sun or semi-shade, being sure to pick a spot that is removed from competing tree roots. Dig wide but plant shallow; the top of the root ball should be at surface grade. Now is also the time to transplant any pre-existing azaleas in your garden. For protection of new or replanted azaleas, add a good layer of mulch, and remember to water well throughout the summer.
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