Azaleas are great indoor plants since the majority of azaleas are evergreen, they require only partial sun and smaller cultivars will keep a neat shape and bloom in spring.
Certain varieties of indoor azaleas are also popular as bonsai trees because of their small size, evergreen foliage and their relative ease of growing.
However, the leaves of indoor azaleas may fall off due to the fluctuating temperatures in the indoors. The fall of leaves is usually an indication that the azalea is under stress because of the constant high temperatures or the stark contrast of the temperature of a home during the day and at night due to the use of air conditioning or heating.
Indoors Azalea Losing Leaves
Leaf drop can be caused by various reasons, including:
- Temperatures indoors that are high (Cool days ) followed by nights with high temperatures because the heaters).
- The majority of azaleas are evergreen but some varieties are deciduous (they shed their leaves in the winter months).).
- The less common, but still plausible causes of leaf loss are due to drought, excessive watering incorrect soil pH, or a lack of sunlight. (Azaleas typically show additional signs of stress prior to the drop of their leaves due to these issues).
The most frequent reason the azalea’s loss of its leaves is the instability of the temperature indoors, especially in winter months when the heat is increased.
The temperature in a house can fluctuate significantly over 24 hours, and is often quite different from the normal temperature cycle observed in the azaleas’ natural habitat.
Azaleas thrive best in indoor areas when temperatures are steady and relatively cool. They are capable of surviving the heat of an open window for a short period of time before getting shaded in the afternoon. However, the high temperatures at night are not the way that azaleas are used to.
Take into consideration the position of the azalea, and whether it is located in close proximity to heat sources like radiators or forced air, or fire places that burn logs.
A blast of warmth from one of these sources in the night can increase the likelihood of drought, and could even causing root rot, and cause leaves to fall in response.
Place the azalea in a cooler area of your home (often kitchens are cooler than the living spaces) as well as away from heat sources. The home doesn’t need to be extremely cold for an azalea to be indoors but the temperature should not vary dramatically at different periods.
Certain azaleas will also appreciate cooler temperatures in Winter , to reproduce the seasonal cycle during their dormancy that lasts from the end of the Fall season to early spring. The cool period is crucial for stimulating the development of flower buds to bloom in Spring, which is the necessity of choosing an area that is cool and pleasant in your home for your the azalea.
If temperature is the reason of the drop in leaf count, Azales are likely to rebound once they are placed in a cooler area of your home. The length of time the process takes to heal will depend on the severity of the drop in leaf however it could take another growing season before the leaves.
The best tip: Azalea can also be vulnerable to a certain amount shock when you take your plants home from the nursery or garden store.
This is the reason I suggest purchasing the plants at a nurseries when it is possible to talk with the staff members about the conditions in which the Azalea is growing in and the conditions it is used to (such as in a greenhouse or outside) to replicate the ideal conditions or determine how tough the azalea species is and let the plant adapt to the environment in which it lives (azaleas can be fairly adaptable).
Keep in mind that when they are taken care of properly Azaleas are suited to indoors and last for more than 100 years.
Other reasons for leaf drop
Temperature fluctuations and extreme heat is the most common cause of leaf loss, however there are other reasons that could be at fault, and they are related to the conditions and care of the Azalea.
The warmer temperatures in the indoor are typically at fault for two reasons:
- A higher chance that drought will occur (azaleas require soil that is moist)
- Greater risk of root rot (warm soils may increase the risk)
Azaleas need moist soil which can be achieved by using the right potting soil (read my article on the best soil mix for Azaleas) and fairly frequent watering, though the soil shouldn’t be overly saturated.
Cool air and heat from air conditioning can accelerate the rate of evaporation in soil and dry the plant quite quickly. This is exacerbated by the fact that azaleas have shallow root systems , and pots tend to dry out rapidly.
The signs of drought usually include a look of wilting and the appearance of leaves that curl at the end. However, the dropping of leaves is a different indication of stress.
The other end of the spectrum is water-logged soil that may be the result of decorative pots with drainage holes in their base or the use of water tray that collects water and helps keep the soil moist instead of the desired equilibrium of soil that is moist and is also drains well.
Another sign of an azalea that has excessive water can appear droopy with leaves turning yellow/brown but leaf drop can also be a problem particularly when it is combined with the high temperatures in the indoors.
Research has shown that a warm home and a soil that is saturated will create the conditions which the root rot fugal disease (Phytophthora) flourishes and poses a significant danger to your Azalea.
The right pot to use for your azalea is crucial with drainage holes in the base and I suggest placing a layer of gravel on the bottom of the pot in order to improve drainage.
The correct potting soil is also crucial because azaleas need soil that is always damp, yet still draining. For more details check out my article on the potting mix that is suitable for azaleas.
Azaleas require an pH-balanced soil that has an acidity of 4-6 pH to thrive. When the soil’s pH is closer than pH zero (7) or acidic, the growth of azaleas will be reduced, the leaves turn yellow, and there could be some drop in the leaves, which is the necessity of preparing the soil for potting and making sure to ensure that it has the correct acidity prior to preparing. Check out my article for possible solutions for the azaleas that have green leaves.
Transplant your azalea in the ericaceous (acidic) compost. The plant will recover to grow again in the coming season.
Azaleas like partial shade, with either dappled or up to four hours of sunshine each day, with shade in the afternoon and middy. Sun exposure can cause burns to leaves, and insufficient sunlight can limit the growth.
The azalea’s pot is moved around until you have the ideal balance between shade and sun. This will improve the overall health and endurance of the plant, which will aid in preventing leaf drop and extend the lifespan of the plant.
Check out my article on how much and how often you should water Azaleas for more details and the best practices, but generally, my recommendation is to keep the azalea hydrated as frequently as is necessary in order to ensure that the soil stays damp (but not clogged with water) that could be 2-3 times per week . Always make sure to use plenty of water.
- The most frequent cause for potted indoor azaleas to shed their leaves is because of the high temperatures or changing temperatures in the home.
- Azaleas like a constant and cool temperature. Radiators or forced air, as well as additional sources of warmth that are close to the azalea could cause stress , which can cause the leaves to fall.
- The majority of indoor azaleas are evergreen However, certain varieties are deciduous, therefore, a drop in leaves in winter could be normal.
- Other reasons for leaf loss are root rot, drought caused by soil that is saturated or too much sun or maybe excessive shade as well as an alkaline or neutral soil pH.
- The recovery of indoor azaleas that have lost leaves is contingent on the severity of the drop in leaf however, it could be able to recover in the following growing season.