Have an established Azalea plant that has grown too big? Or perhaps you want to place it somewhere else where its beauty can be admired. What can you do in such situations? Basically, you should be asking the question; can Azalea bushes be transplanted?
Yes, you can transplant an azalea bush. But, it requires careful planning and care. You will have to carry out certain care actions before and after transplanting the azalea bush.
Transplanting any plant is not an overnight process and you shouldn’t think it is! If the appropriate steps are not taken before and after transplantation, your azalea will die.
Before we get to transplanting, let’s discuss when to transplant your azalea plants.
When To Transplant Azalea Bushes?
The success of azalea bush transplantation does depend greatly on the timing of the transplant. Doing it at the wrong season can be a fatal mistake!
Transplanting azaleas is best done in early spring or fall.
Also, the worst time to transplant these plants happens to be in the heat of summer or winter. So, what makes these seasons the best or worst time for transplantation? Let’s find out.
Summer is not ideal for moving an azalea to another spot because of the high risks of wilting, and yellowing. Both are symptoms of dehydration. Even if the soil is moist it does not matter because the atmosphere is hot.
Winter is not the most ideal time for transplanting either. This is because the new transplant will not be able to develop its root system and could succumb to the cold!
The best time of the day to transplant azaleas is in the early morning or late afternoon.
Reasons for this are
- Sun intensity and exposure is minimal during these times.
- And, any attempts to move your plants should be avoided in extremely cold parts of the day.
Prior to transplanting an azalea plant, there are certain activities that must be undertaken to assure your plants adapt and survive. Also, certain actions can work in your favor. They will assist in a smooth transition when moving your azaleas around the garden.
Two things you can’t ignore while transplanting your azalea plants are pruning and root pruning. If you want the process to be a success and easy, don’t forget to carry out both processes.
It doesn’t make much sense pruning an azalea only after you have transplanted it! It is better to do it before. This way the plant appears neater and smaller and it will take up less space than if you didn’t prune it.
Plus pruning your azalea in its old spot gives the plant time to adjust to missing some parts of it. You can carry out the pruning a few days before you plan to move the plants. This makes one less thing to do after you replant the azaleas.
You will be best off when pruning about ⅓ of the topmost growth. Also, shaping before transplanting will help the plant to grow in the right direction once moved.
Don’t know how to prune azaleas? Read our guide to pruning azalea plants.
If regular Pre-transplantation pruning sounded unusual to you, this is going to sound even more odd. Well before transplantation, you should carry out root pruning! Now, you must be wondering what exactly is root pruning.
Root pruning is the activity of cutting or minimizing your plant’s roots. This is necessary if you are planning to transplant an azalea that is old with a large root system.
There are many benefits to doing this and doing it much in advance of the transplanting time. Many of the reasons actually work in your favor and will make the process of transplanting azaleas bushes smoother and faster!
Here are a few reasons why you should root prune your azalea bush prior to transplanting.
- Azalea plants that are old have an expansive root system. Uprooting the entire plant with all its roots will be time consuming. Not to mention all the energy required to completely uproot the entire plant and its roots.
- Root pruning helps to maintain root health. As time passes, old roots begin to dry up but they are still attached to the plant. This makes the root system lage even though not all the roots are alive and functioning. Pruning helps to keep the system compact with just the live roots.
- Have a measured area for your plant? Root pruning helps to contain your plant’s growth. If exceeding this space is not an option, turn to pruning and root pruning.
- Energy that would be used on keeping roots alive is rerouted to stimulating new growth in the plant. Overall this leads to better growth and appearance above-ground and below-ground as well.
How To Root Prune Azaleas?
People who are hearing about root pruning for the first time, may not know how to go about this activity.
- Using a spade, cut a circular trench around your azalea plants. Make sure to apply pressure and sever any roots that come into your path.
- As a measure, start at 8 to 12 inches from the trunk of the azalea.
- Take all the soil out till about 6 inches wide and a foot deep.
- Use loose suitable soil to refill the trench.
- Because of the loose nature, any roots/root hairs that grow in this area will be easily pulled out.
NOTE: Azalea roots are more wide than deep. This means you should use more effort in widening the hole and deepening it.
How To Transplant An Azalea Bush?
But, before you actually uproot your plant, you have to find a site to put it. Dig the hole before uprooting the plant. Remember, you will want your plant to spend as little time as possible out of the ground. The longer it stays out, the greater the chances of transplant shock.
- Pick a site that receives weak sun. It can be a semi-sun location since azalea needs almost equal amounts of sun and shade to thrive and flower.
- Dig a circle out, and pull out the root ball. A shovel/spade is the best tool for this. (root pruning will help with this step).
- Slowly settle the plant and root ball into the new site which should be ready.
- Fill the remaining space with soil that is suitable for your azalea plant.
- Water the plant generously and add fertilizer if required. Just do this until the roots establish themselves and growth appears. (Shock symptoms recede). Be careful to avoid overwatering.
After this is done, it mostly cares about activities that are needed.
Find out if azaleas can grow in full sun.
Managed to shift your plant’s location? Well, I wish I could say the job is done, but it’s not! Your azalea plant is still vulnerable and will need your help and protection to grow and adapt to its new surroundings.
Want your new transplant to live? Well then, you will have to take extra care to make sure you water these plants daily. This should persist for the first 2 weeks after transplanting. Slowly, watering can ease up.
To assist the absorption of water, you can make a depressed circle around the trunk of the plant.
This helps to avoid the water splashing out or running off the soil and into another area. Once the two weeks are up, adopt a weekly or when needed soaking.
Your watering efforts will have to be carefully planned out, even after a few months have passed by.
The roots are shallow and at a high risk of drying out. But, at the same time, you will not want to keep the soil overly wet as this will suffocate the roots.
A Lot of this has to do with the type of soil you select. Clay soils will block out air and accumulate water. While excessively sandy soils will eliminate all water leaves a dry and nutrient-lacking growing medium.
Delaying and preventing ‘transplant shock’ (stress) requires you to make sure the new transplant can grow immediately. But how can you make the conditions suitable for instant growth?
The key is to make sure that the plants remain in a moist environment. Of course, growth requires nutrients as well. Actually, there is a way to make sure both are available at the same time. You can use mulch!
Mulch is an organic material that is usually rich in nutrients as well as capable of retaining large amounts of moisture.
You can use straws, pine needles, or something as common as hay. Make sure it is well rotted. Place a 3 to 6-inch layer of mulch over the soil where the roots are likely to be positioned. Make sure the mulch is at least 1 to 2 inches away from the trunk to avoid rotting.
The decomposed material in the mulch has to be acidic as azalea plants don’t thrive in acidic conditions.
Before applying mulch to azaleas, check the pH. You can use a readymade test kit available in retail stores or on an online store.
NOTE: Transplanted azalea plants mostly die due to underwatering and severe disease infections. You will have to guard against such issues if you want successful transplantation.
Here is a sum-up of all the activities a healthy azalea bush transplantation requires.
No use in carrying excess weight! Prune off all dead or unwanted plant portions before you move the plant. This also makes moving the more compact plant easier.
Carry out root pruning before transplanting to avoid facing struggles while removing the plant from the ground. This process actually helps to maintain root heath. It can also keep growth in check, particularly it helps to limit the growth of indoor plants.
Provide your newly transplanted azalea plants with constant and regular watering.
Because azaleas have shallow (wide not deep) root systems, they are at increased risk of dehydration. Water them every day for the first 2 weeks. Then once weekly for the next few months.
Use a well-rotted mulch to cover the plants to retain moisture. Making sure it is well-rotted will ensure it keeps the soil acidic and still releases nutrients. Appropriate mulch options are pine needles, straw, or hay, and will do.
Did your azalea turn brown after transplanting? Find out why azaleas turn brown and how to solve it.
It is possible to successfully transplant Azalea bushes (even old ones). However, to make this possible you must take certain measures to ensure you receive the desired results.
When should you transplant Azalea plants?
It is best to transplant azalea plants in the Fall or early Spring season. Why these seasons? Because your plants have more chances of growing enough to survive winter and summer. Also, make sure your timing is right. Avoid transplanting in the heat of the day and wait for cooler temperatures.