Where Should You Plant Azaleas For Optimal Growth?

Are you considering planting azaleas in your garden but you are not sure where they should go? These flowering shrubs will survive in many different growing conditions. But which is best? In this article, gardening expert Jill Drago shares how you can expect your azalea to grow depending on where it is planted.

when to plant azaleas


Azalea plants have gained well-deserved popularity for the luminous blossoms that grace our gardens in spring and sometimes throughout the summer. Occasionally evergreen and always stunning when in bloom, azalea growth and performance are impacted by where you plant them.

Every garden is different, which is both wonderful and challenging at times. Lack of sunlight can cause a lack of flowers, whereas too much sunlight can cause issues with dehydration and burning. 

If you want to get the most out of your new shrubs, let’s determine where you should plant your azaleas!

The Short Answer

Azaleas share the same genus as their large, shade-loving cousins the Rhododendron. These shrubs have many similarities, however, their ideal growing conditions are a bit different. Azaleas can grow well in full sun or partial sun. They will also live in more shaded areas, but you likely won’t get the results you’re hoping for.

If you want to get the most out of your azaleas, you should plant them in a partially sunny area that receives mostly morning sun. Oftentimes this is the north side of your house, or on a woodland edge where the flowering shrubs will get dappled sunlight all day.

The Long Answer

A close-up of a lush and profusely flowering Azalea bush in a sunny garden. It is a shrub with upright branches, covered with large, oblong, elliptical leaves, dark green in color with a waxy texture. The plant produces large, rounded clusters of light purple funnel-shaped flowers. Long purple stamens protrude from the centers of the flowers.
Azaleas are flowering shrubs thriving in zones 5-9 with a stunning array of pink, purple, white, and orange flowers.

Azaleas are flowering shrubs native to Asia. They grow very nicely in zones 5-9, producing stunning flowers in varying shades of pink, purple, white, orange, and more! 

Once established in your garden, they’re very low maintenance. These shrubs rarely require pruning if they’re planted in the right spot. Azaleas do love acidic soil, so you may want to amend yours or, at the very least, fertilize with holly-tone or another fertilizer for acid-loving plants. 

Depending on what variety of azalea you select for your garden, your flowers will bloom sometime in the late spring to early summer. There are reblooming varieties to keep the flowers coming well into the fall.

Picking a Planting Location

Where you decide to plant your azaleas is ultimately up to you. Below, I will break down the pros and cons of planting in a few different scenarios so you can make the best decision for your garden. 

Sunlight is important for all plants. However, there is such a thing as too much sunlight at the wrong time of the day. If they get direct sun, the morning sun is best for azaleas. Plant your azaleas along the north side of your home to ensure they don’t get blasted with too much afternoon sun. 

Full Sun

Close-up of a small flowering Azalea plant in a sunny garden. It is a young shrub, with upright branches densely covered with large, elliptical, dark green leaves with a smooth, waxy texture. The plant produces lush clusters of many funnel-shaped light purple flowers. The flowers have five petals with slightly ruffled edges and orange freckles on one of the upper petals.
Azaleas in full sun have lush, compact growth and abundant flowers due to 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.

If you have full sun spaces in your garden, you can expect your azaleas to have a lush and more compact growth habit. Full sunlight means the plants will get direct sunlight for 6-8 hours daily. Sunlight is crucial for producing flowers, so you can also expect many flowers. 

The downside to planting azaleas in full sun is that you may need to water more frequently. These shrubs are shallow-rooted, which means they dry out quicker when the weather heats up or they grow in full sun. 

Something else to consider is that while full sun-growing azaleas may produce a lot of flowers, the flowers aren’t long-lasting. This is due to the sunlight drying out the flowers a bit quicker. 

Partial Sun

Close-up of a flowering Azaleas plant in a sunlit garden. It is a large shrub with many upright branches covered with elongated, elliptical, dark green leaves with a leathery and waxy texture. The plant produces an abundance of bright pink-red tubular flowers, which are collected in rounded racemes.
Azaleas in partial sun or shade will grow with slightly more leggy growth as branches reach for sunlight.

Azaleas planted in partial sun or shade will still grow nicely. Because the branches will reach for sunlight to help produce strong, healthy foliage and flowers, the growth habit will be more leggy. Partial sunlight ranges from 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day.

The upside to partially sun-grown azaleas is that the blossoms last much longer because they are protected from the sun’s heat. 

Lack of sunlight is oftentimes the reason your azalea is not blooming. So while azaleas may grow in the shade, four or more hours doesn’t provide enough sun to guarantee you flowers each year.

Container Planting

Close-up of a flowering Azaleas plant in a large black container, outdoors. The plant is lush, branched, has many elliptical dark green leaves with a waxy texture. Azalea produces an abundance of pale pink funnel-shaped flowers. They consist of five petals, on the top of which there are abundant rich pink-purple freckles.
Azaleas can be grown in containers for gardens without full or partial sun, allowing mobility and placement in appropriate light.

If you don’t have full or partial sun in your garden, there’s another option: container gardening! Azaleas grow beautifully in containers for years and years. The best part about container-planted azaleas is that you can move these containers around or situate them in your hardscape areas, where they receive the appropriate amount of light. 

Once your container is placed in its final position, you must care a little more intensely for these plants. Less soil around the roots means you may need to water more frequently.

Potted azaleas must be overwintered if you wish to keep them growing in containers for years to come. If you only want them potted for one year, transplant the azalea into your flower beds in the early autumn. 

Climate Considerations

Close-up of Flame Azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum) flowering plant in the garden. It is a large shrub with large elliptical leaves. They are medium green in color with a smooth, waxy texture. The flowers are showy, tubular, bright orange. They consist of five petals and long protruding orange stamens. The flowers show a gradient of colors, with a darker shade on the outer petals and a lighter shade towards the center, creating a spectacular and fiery effect.
Consider your local climate when planting azaleas, as they are hardy in zones 5-9.

Now that you know where in your yard azaleas will have the most success, there is one more thing to keep in mind, your local climate. Azaleas are hardy in zones 5-9, depending on the variety.

These flowering shrubs are not fond of humidity. If grown in consistently humid climates, they develop fungal issues. Powdery mildew, petal blight, and azalea gall are some common fungal diseases that can cause issues with azaleas.

These diseases can ruin the appearance of your plant for a short or a very long time, depending on your climate. Ensure that your azaleas have plenty of room in between other plants to provide optimum airflow and reduce the effects of humidity.

Azaleas should also be protected from the wind. Wind can be very drying to plants, especially in crucial winter months when available moisture is scarce.

Not only can the wind wick water out of the soil, but it can also dry out the leaves, leaving them damaged. If you are already planning on planting your azaleas along the side of your house, you have begun to tackle this issue.

Wrap your azaleas loosely with burlap in the winter to protect the plant from the winds. Do not wrap too tightly. The burlap can damage the leaves. 

There are a number of popular varieties you can choose from, depending on your planting location. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular that you can add to your garden.

Autumn Chiffon

Close-up of a blooming 'Autumn Chiffon' azalea in a sunny garden. The plant produces large light pink tubular flowers with wavy edges. The upper petals have dark pink freckles.
The ‘Autumn Chiffon’ azalea is a reblooming evergreen variety with large light pink flowers.

‘Autumn Chiffon’ is a reblooming azalea variety that grows 2-3 feet tall and wide. This azalea produces large light pink flowers in the spring and will continue to rebloom into the fall.

‘Autumn Chiffon’ is an evergreen azalea. Plant where it receives a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight. This is an excellent option for a low hedge!

Autumn Ivory

Close-up of 'Autumn Ivory' azalea in the garden. It is an evergreen azalea with glossy dark green lanceolate leaves. Flowers are a pure and fresh shade of white. The flowers are bell-shaped with prominent long stamens.
‘Autumn Ivory’ is a compact reblooming evergreen azalea with abundant white flowers, ideal for mass planting.

Another reblooming option from the Encore series, this azalea grows from 2-3 feet tall and wide. The flowers are a crisp and clean shade of white, and they produce abundantly! ‘Autumn Ivory’ is evergreen and will keep your garden looking fresh and lush all year. 

A dwarf variety, plant ‘Autumn Ivory’ where you can appreciate its prolific blooms. It lends itself perfectly to mass planting.

Double Shot Grape

Close-up of a 'Double Shot Grape' azalea in bloom. The leaves are bright green, providing a rich backdrop for the main attraction, its stunning double flowers. The flowers of this variety have a bewitching shade of dark purple grapes. The flowers are funnel-shaped with a dark crimson throat and crimson strokes and freckles on the upper petals.
Double Shot Grape is a thriving evergreen azalea with beautiful purple double flowers, perfect for containers in ideal conditions.

For a punch of purple, check out ‘Double Shot Grape.’ This azalea produces a large amount of flowers when grown in ideal conditions. ‘Double Shot Grape’ grows 2-3 feet tall and wide.

Another evergreen azalea, this variety looks happy and healthy all year long. Consider it for a container where you can move it out of the harsh afternoon sun on hot days. 

Flame Azalea

Close-up of Flame Azalea blooming in the garden. The plant produces large, lanceolate, dark green, glossy leaves. The flowers are large, funnel-shaped, bright fiery shade of orange.
Tall Flame Azalea has striking bright orange flowers, making it ideal for a spacious featured spot.

‘Flame Azalea’ is a tall orange azalea! This variety grows from 4-8 feet tall as well as wide. The bright orange flowers can reach up to 3 inches in diameter.

This is a deciduous azalea, meaning it will drop all of its leaves in the wintertime. This is a striking plant, so place it in a featured spot with plenty of space to show off!

Gumpo Pink

Close-up of blooming Azalea 'Gumpo Pink' in the garden. The leaves of the Gumpo Pink azalea are small and shiny, creating a lush backdrop for its flowers. The flowers are large, funnel-shaped, with wavy edges. Flowers in a soft and attractive pink hue, exuding a sense of grace and beauty.
‘Gumpo Pink’ is a compact evergreen azalea with ruffled pink flowers and white throats.

For pink lovers, try ‘Gumpo Pink.’ These large flowers are bubblegum pink with a white throat. Each petal has a ruffled edge giving the flowers a full appearance.

Growing from 1-2 feet tall to 2-3 feet wide, this pretty evergreen azalea will look lovely year-round. Compact and showy, plant ‘Gumpo Pink’ in a front border where it stays manageable while drawing the eye.

Hino Crimson

Close-up of a blooming Azalea Hino Crimson in the garden. It is a compact and densely branched evergreen shrub with small, glossy and elliptical leaves. They have a brilliant dark green color, creating an elegant backdrop for vibrant colors. The plant produces an abundance of brilliant crimson-red flowers. Each flower is funnel-shaped, with five petals and long, prominent stamens. The flowers form in attractive clusters at the tips of the branches.
The ‘Hino Crimson’ azalea is a stunning flowering shrub known for its vibrant red blooms and semi-evergreen nature.

‘Hino Crimson’ is a very popular magenta azalea. Growing from 2-3 feet tall and 3-5 feet wide, this azalea produces many flowers.

‘Hino Crimson’ is a semi-evergreen azalea, meaning it drops leaves in cooler climates but remains evergreen in warmer regions. This early-blooming spreader is best planted in rich soil with lots of morning sun.

Final Thoughts 

Azaleas come in many different colors, with single or double flowers. The variety of sizes available on the market makes it easy to fit this shrub into your garden. All you need to do is find the right spot for your azalea, and you’ll have a happy and healthy plant that will bring you years of joy! 

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