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Planting Azaleas

Magnificent, Luscious Color in your Landscape

Author Jeff HalperOf the many things that a Houston landscape has going for it, planting azaleas definitely tops the list. Azaleas supply that heart-stopping beauty that tells us spring has arrived. At Exterior Worlds, we think any and all landscapes benefit from such loveliness.

There are thousands of azalea varieties, although even the large garden centers will carry only a fraction of that quantity.
Blossom colors run the spectrum from white to red. Some varieties grow quite tall and tend to spread with age. Others grow less than 12 inches in height and provide good mid-range filler in a layered bed or serve as a spreading groundcover. Planting azaleas in a butterfly garden design or shade garden design will amplify all the other decisions you’ve made for these styles. The azalea bush is a great choice for foundation planting, too.

In general, when planting azaleas, we plant them in groups, a theory that underscores that more is more. A mass of blossoms gives your garden beds eye-popping beauty while beds filled with one of this and one of that merely look like a hodgepodge. However, we are careful to give each plant room to grow—when spacing the bushes, we plant for their mature size and shape.

Garden designs that express unity are also more pleasing, an objective we accomplish by choosing only one or two colors, grouping bushes in series of three or five, and by repeating these groupings across your landscape. This repetition achieves unity and continuity.

An Exterior Worlds residential landscape designer can help you make the best choices for the particular conditions of your property. Our designers understand the Houston topography and natural elements. They also know to work with the architecture of your space and, of course, your personal style.


Planting azaleas is a relatively easy process. They prefer slightly acidic soil with good drainage and partial shade. We start with the planting soil. Heavy clay soil, as found in Houston, benefits from added fibrous material and sand, and so we recommend a ratio of 1/3 loam (or soil), 1/3 sand, and 1/3 organic matter. In good soil, we dig a hole at least a few inches wider than the rootball and as deep as the rootball. Because of Houston’s heavy soil, we position bushes so that the tops of the rootball are several inches above the ground level. Then we mound the new soil mixture around the rootball and mulch the newly-planted bushes, being careful not to place mulch up the trunks. The last step is to then water, slowly and thoroughly.

If you are looking for an additional way to add color to your landscape, planting annuals is a viable option. Seasonal color adds freshness to your yards and complements the blooming bushes and trees. Perhaps you might place these annuals in pots to help define your garden spaces. You can use small- to large-sized containers to frame a view, enclose a garden space, or create a pathway.

In Houston, your garden landscape invites azaleas. The names alone are lyrical: Serenade, Marvel, Silver Sword, Pink Cascade. Their colors are bewitching. Put them in your gardens and let them work their magic.