We’ve all seen the classically beautiful landscape – dots of mature pine trees forming a canopy over blooming azaleas, with streams of light filtering through the tree tops. It’s an impressive springtime sight, and luckily, one that can easily be repeated throughout the year with Encore® Azaleas.
While picturesque, this garden design is also functional, as the soil under pine trees is typically an ideal location for acid-loving azaleas.
Here are some tips for creating, and caring for, your own plantings under pines.
Encore® Azaleas bloom better with some sun. For optimum results, prune lower branches to permit space for your shrubs to develop and to allow sun and rain to infiltrate. Bright light under pine trees with a high canopy is ideal. Encore® Azaleas thrive with four to six hours of direct sun a day. Morning sun is best.
Most pine trees have deep roots and will not excessively compete with shallow-rooted azaleas for moisture. If you are in doubt, take a good look around your pine tree. If weeds are growing there, you should be able to grow Encore® Azaleas, too. If the soil is barren, find another spot.
Plant azaleas a minimum of six feet from the base of the tree, and avoid large roots. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and at least twice as wide. Encore® Azaleas must have well drained soil. Place the plant with its root ball 1 to 2 inches above the ground and fill the hole with a mixture of 50 percent organic matter such as shredded bark, decayed leaves or compost, and 50 percent native soil. Pull the improved soil up to the top of the root ball, forming a mound.
Spread a 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the shrub. Pull the mulch an inch or two away from the trunk to form a doughnut shape. Pine needles and pine chips work well, ensuring the soil stays moist and protecting the Encore® Azalea from extreme temperatures. The mulch will also suppress weeds. Eventually, it will decay and provide nutrients to the plant.
Keep your shrubs well watered during the growing season. Encore® Azaleas need consistent moisture throughout the spring and summer to grow and to set flower buds for future blooms. An inch of water per week is ideal. Avoid flooding the plant all at once.
Remember these steps when planting and establishing your Encore® Azaleas, and they will reward you with dazzling blooms under the evergreen shelter of your pine trees for many seasons to come!