Last Updated on August 16, 2022 by Stephanie
Azalea flowers and leaves tend to fade due to three causes:
- Azaleas have roots that are shallow which makes them susceptible to drought, which causes blooms that are wilted and leaves.
- The suns rays dry out the soil and could cause burns to the delicate leaves of the Azalea.
- A soil that drains too slow or is naturally sloppy can cause the azalea plant to develop root decay. The signs of root rot are the leaves becoming wilted and brown patches.
Increased watering, mulch application as well as increasing shade (azaleas prefer shade that is partial) can help stop the azaleas from dying due to reasons 2 and 1. Slow draining soil must be altered to ensure it drains effectively or you can move the azalea in an area with more fertile soil.
Learn more about the best ways to deal with any wilting Azleas and the most effective ways to ensure your azalea leaves and flowers in good health…
Table of Contents
1. Drought Causes Azalea Leaves and Flowers to Wilt
The most frequent reason for azalea leaves or blooms to wilt is due to the drought.
The cause of drought is:
- In hot dry and hot conditions
- Soil that drains too fast and doesnt retain water
Azaleas are naturally shallow-rooted plants, and thus are unable to access more water in the soil. They are among the first plants to exhibit symptoms of stress during hot temperatures.
The signs of stress are the appearance of wilting flowers and leaves, as well as leaves wilting and slowing growth.
Azaleas also require a fertile soil that is able to hold moisture for a long time for healthy growth and to produce flowers.
Azaleas that are planted in moist, rich soil (amended by organic matter) and in a space with partially shade, and receive regular mulching during the growing season. They typically only needing watering during the most scorching months of the year.
But azaleas are more prone to drought if placed in soils draining too fast (such like sandy soil) or if they live in hot, humid climates.
The best way to stop the azaleas from dying because of dryness is by preparing the soil properly prior to planting with organic materials like compost leaf mould, leaf mould or decayed manure. This is especially important in fast draining and sandy soils that drain too fast so that the azalea can draw in water and increase the chance of becoming wilted.
Each of these soil amendments has the ability to hold in water and also are porous, which lets excess water be able to drain away, ensuring that the soil is not saturated. Check out my article on the best way to prepare your garden soil to plant Azaleas to learn everything you have to be aware of.
It is possible more frequent watering in order to avoid the risk of drought if you reside in a dry climate like California.
The two times a week that you water azaleas in the spring and summer is usually enough for azaleas but you must keep the plant watered as often as you can to ensure that the soil is kept damp to prevent wilting of leaves and flowers that could happen all day long during the hot summer days when you live in a dry climate.
Always give your garden a good soak, as this can encourage the roots to develop into greater depths in the soil , which will lower the chance of drought.
Learn from my article the amount and how often you should water Azaleas as well as the most effective methods for different climates and conditions.
2. Too Much Water (Root Rot) Causing Wilting
Another reason that is quite surprising for azaleas to die is due to excessive water in the roots.
This is due to saturated soil (rather than damp soil) that isnt well draining, creates conditions that lead to the fugal disease root the fungus root.
The signs of root rot include an appearance of wiltedness and possibly brown spots on leaves.
These symptoms, in particular, the wilted leaves can look like a plant that is suffering from drought. Gardeners can increase their the amount of watering to increase the severity of the issue.
If left unattended for a long period of time, root rot can cause the azalea to die.
Azaleas need moist soil around their roots, but they are not tolerant of saturated soil. The soil around azaleas typically gets saturated due to two reasons:
- Slow draining soils like clay, or clay-like soils that are compacted (azaleas require soil that is rich with organic matter)
- Azaleas in containers and pots that dont contain drainage holes at the bottom of their pots and containers.
Clay soils typically require substantial amendments with organic material, and occasionally grit to expand the size of pores of the soil so that water can be drained away prior to planting azaleas or nearly any other popular gardening plant.
Azaleas need soil that is high of organic matter (compost) because it is able to retain moisture, and it has pores that allow excess water to drain away , so that the soil doesnt become overly sloppy within the root zone.
Organic matter is a good source of keeping moisture in soil, while also draining to ensure the best soil health.
I suggest watching this YouTube video about how to enhance clay soils to get an overview of the solution:
If you have clay soils, think about moving your azalea into elevated beds, or even pots so that you can alter the soils structure, making it more suitable for the cultivation of plants like azaleas, roses , camellias, etc.
In potted azaleas, most of the time the issue is a lack of drainage holes at the bottom of pots and containers. In the absence of drainage, the soil gets boggy, which can lead to root rot and dying leaves.
Decorate your drip trays or pots with decorative designs. can also prevent the excess water from draining. I recommend you add a 1 inch layer of gravel on the bottom of the pot to ensure that the drainage holes dont get blocked by compacted soil.
Replant the azalea in new soil that permits adequate drainage. You can also reduce the frequency of your irrigation until the leaves do not have an appearance of wilting.
If you have severe cases of root decay, look at the azaleas root ball and trim away the infected roots (yellow and decayed) using a sterilized pair of pruning tools before planting the azalea in a better soil.
Check out my article provide a step-by-step guide to the best potting mix for Azaleas to ensure they can recover of root decay and last for more than 100 years.
3. Too Much Sun
Another major risk for dying azaleas is to plant them in excessive sunlight.
Azaleas prefer shade that is partial or the sun shining through the canopy of a tree or with 4 hours of sunshine (preferably early morning sunlight) and protection from the midday sun, and shading in afternoon.
Azaleas need shade in part due to:
- Shade helps reduce soil evaporation, so the soil stays moist, and, consequently, it is less likely of drought.
- Azalea leaves as well as Rhododendrons are delicate and susceptible to scorching by the sun.
A little sunshine on your azalea can encourage flowering, however too much sun can harm the plant and could cause wilting of the leaves and blooms.
The most important thing is to find the right balance of shade and sun for your particular climate. Azaleas in warmer climates that have more intense sunlight needing more hours of shade and protection per day, whereas azaleas thrive in cooler, more temperate climates that have plenty of cloudy days can tolerate more sunlight.
Shade for potted azaleas is simpler, but for azaleas that are planted on the soil, a few plants that can provide shade to the azalea could be a great option.
Another option is to move the azalea into a suitable shaded area within your yard. The ideal moment for a transfer is during the fall when the temperature is a bit cooler and the soil remains moist.
If your azalea is dying but the leaves arent shining in the sunlight and you do not want to move the azalea , then I suggest the following actions:
- The azalea should be watered more often (as often as you can for the soil to remain wet)
- Spread an even layer of mulch on the surface of the soil surrounding the azalea plant to help retain the moisture
Mulch can cool the roots, improve the soils structure, provide nutrients, stop water from escaping the soils surface and will hold in moisture for longer.
It is possible to apply mulch anytime of the season, but I would recommend doing it in the spring before the heat of summer. The most effective mulching materials include leaf mould, compost and well-rotted manure since all of them are extremely effective in holding in water.
Research has shown that azaleas grow stronger root systems and have greater overall health for the plant when the soil is amended by garden compost
Regular watering and mulching will ensure that the azalea can recover from drought and stop the soil from drying out rapidly, thereby preventing the leaves and flowers from wilting. The flowers and leaves should be back to normal within less than 24 hours.
Always give azaleas an ample soak since this helps the roots grow.
- Azalea flowers and leaves may be prone to wilting due to excessive sun, drought or due to root rot.
- Azaleas suffering from drought may show a look of wilting, with leaves and flowers that curl and could change color to brown.
- Azaleas could also be suffering due to too much sunlight drying out the earth and burning the delicate leaves.
- Wilting leaves can also be an indication of stress as a result of root rot. This can be caused by soils that drain slowly or pots that do not have drainage holes in their base, which causes the soil to become boggy.
- Regular watering and the use of mulch, and shade can often stop the azalea from dying.
- Slow draining soils require extensive amendments with organic matter and gravel to improve drainage to make it suitable for the cultivation of azaleas and other plants.
- A well-groomed soil (with large levels of organic matter) assists in maintaining an equilibrium of moisture, while creating a porous soil to allow excess water to drain away and stops root rot. This prevents the plant from dying.