Why is My Potted Azalea Dying? (7 Reasons)

Last Updated on November 4, 2022 by admin

  1. Azaleas need moist soil. If the soil becomes dry, the plant will begin to wilt as the leaves begin to curl. It is important to water azaleas as often as you need to make sure the soil remains damp (but but not completely saturated).
  2. Azaleas in water pots that are fed by rainwater is not the same as tap water. Rainwater is a contributor to the acidic conditions Azales prefer. Tap water may be alkaline or pH neutral.
  3. The presence of water in the soil can cause root rot. Pots that do not have adequate drainage at the base or through the use drip trays can result in the soil becoming over-watered. The signs of root rot are brown or yellow leaves that have the appearance of wilting.
  4. Containers and pots have a small capacity for nutrients, which is why they require fertilizers. Insufficient fertile soil or an enriched one can hinder the growth of the Azalea.
  5. Direct sunlight can cause azalea leaves to burn and cause dryness. Insufficient enough light can limit the growth rate and also reduce the number of flowers.
  6. Azaleas in pots for indoor use are sensitive to extreme temperatures and draughts. Temperature fluctuations can trigger the leaves to drop, as well as drought.
  7. Azaleas require potting soil that is acidic (pH 4 to 6) in order to absorb nutrients. In soils that are less acidic and even neutral conditions, the leaves of azaleas often change color and the plant doesnt last long.

1. Water Frequently (with Rainwater) to Keep the Soil Moist or Risk Drought

Azaleas need the soil to remain moist every moment (without the soil becoming saturated).

Azaleas are naturally low-lying root system, which is why theyre typically among the plants that first exhibit indications of dryness (wilting appearance, with leaves curling upwards).

Potted azaleas in outdoor and indoor pots require more frequent watering than those that are planted on garden boards.

Water azaleas that have a good soak, so that there is a small trickle coming out from the bottom of the plant. This will let you know it is the case that water penetrated the soil in a way that is effective.

In the summer months, when temperatures are at their highest season, I suggest watering the azalea twice per week. However, you must keep azaleas hydrated as often as you can to ensure that the soil remains damp.

Beware of radiators or forced air that heat indoor azaleas. the intense sun that is thrown on outdoor azaleas can rapidly heat the pots and cause soil to evaporate because these are the most common reasons for drought.

To find out more about the best practices and ways to recognize when your need to water your azalea, check out my post on the amount and how often you should water the azaleas.

2. Use Rain Water not Tap Water

Azaleas need acidic soil conditions (pH 4 - 6) to ensure that their roots are able to absorb nutrients. It is best to water your azalea using rainwater since rain is generally less acidic and can cause acidic conditions that Azaleas thrive.

The tap water typically is at or around pH 7 or the alkaline pH (any level higher than the pH of 7).

It shouldnt bother the azalea to be occasionally fed with tap water, especially if the soil has been properly prepared, but regular watering of azaleas within pots may increase the soils pH, making it harder for the azaleas to get the nutrients it needs.

The signs that azaleas are growing in soil that is not at the correct pH are yellow leaves, and often slow growth. If this is the case with your azalea, read my article about Azleas that have yellow leaves to find the remedy.

3. Water Logged Soil: Drip Trays or Pots Without Drainage

Azaleas need their potting soil to be well-draining to ensure that any excess water is able to escape through the drainage holes at the bottom of the planter.

Make sure you select a pot for your azaleas with drainage holes at the base. Otherwise, the soil will become saturated, which can lead to illness roots decay (Phytophthora).

The yellow/brown leaves that have an appearance of wilting are indicators of stress caused by over irrigation or soil that is more saturated than damp.

The layer of gravel on the bottom of the pot can be beneficial to keep drainage holes free of the soil that has been compacted to allow water to easily be able to escape from the pot.

If this happens to your azalea plant, move the azalea in a new pot that has drainage that is good and then replace the soil. Examine your azaleas roots, and cut off the roots that are yellow and have become into rotten. Replanting the azalea into fresh soil gives the plant the best chance of survival.

Beware of this error The most frequent mistakes made by indoor potted azaleas is using drip tray beneath the pot to collect the excess water, so that it doesnt cause an odour.

The issue is that this prevents water from draining out of the pot, and will cause a drowning of the roots, which causes the death of azaleas due to root decay.

The best solution is to move the pot out for a short period, say 30 minutes so that the water drains away, and then bring the pot to indoors afterward.

4. Lack of Fertility in Potting Soil

Azaleas in pots are more likely to be affected by a deficiency of nutrients in the soil than those in the garden because of the small soil capacity of the pot. Pots also do not possess the soils beneficial ecosystem which works to improve the availability of nutrients.

If nutrients are not added to the soil, Azaleas will produce less blooms, and the growth may be sluggish.

The best solution is to apply an azalea fertilizer during the spring. Specialised fertilizers for azaleas have the ideal amount of nutrients and help to create an acidic soil that the azaleas roots require to absorb nutrients.

Slow release granules provide the azalea with nutrition throughout the growing season, to boost the growth rate and blooms. If you think your are suffering from an absence in nutrients, you should wait until the spring time to apply the fertilizer. If fertilizer is applied in the summer, it could increase the growth of foliage , but at the expense of flowers.

Repotting the azalea each few years will keep root growth from getting pot-bound and will provide fertile soil. Repot azaleas each year or after they are pot bound to ensure that the plant is healthy.

5. Not enough (or too excessive) Light

Azaleas bloom and grow to their peak when they are in shade. The suns intense heat can burn their delicate leaves (particularly in dry climates) and lead to drought. However, full shade results in less flowers, and less growth of foliage and a spindly look.

The most important thing to ensure healthy azaleas is finding the ideal balance between shade and light in your environment.

Azaleas thrive in dim light in the shade of a tree because this is akin to the natural environment they live in. However , 4 hours of early morning sunlight and shade in the afternoon can provide an equilibrium to ensure that the azalea blooms but is also protected from the harsh midday sun.

With potted plants, you are able to move the azalea around quickly to find the perfect level of brightness.

Indoor plants that have less flowers need to be relocated to a window with a sunny view which can let in some sun exposure for around 4 hours each day.

It is important to remember that azaleas need that the soil be kept moist, so the more sunlight can increase transpiration of the soil and evaporation of azaleas leaves, so youll need more frequent watering in order to avoid the risk of drought.

6. High indoor temperatures (too close to draught or heat source)

Another mistake that is often made when it comes to indoor azaleas is to find them in rooms that are too hot typically due to radiators, forced air, or even air conditioning.

This can lead to typical signs of drought, like wilting leaves with leaves curling and the flowers drooping. Extremely high temperatures may result in leaf loss, especially when the temperature is fluctuating dramatically, from a cool daytime temperature to higher temperatures at night.

Even if you regularly water the increased transpiration of the leaves because of the dry air could result in stress on the plant.

It is best to keep the azalea out of from the path of major sources of air or heat and ensure that you water it regularly to ensure that the soil remains damp (but not clogged with water).

7. Acidic Soil for Azaleas in Pots

Azaleas require an acidic , fertile soil that is pH between 4-6 for their roots to be able to absorb every nutrient they require from their soil. When the pH of soil is close to pH 7 , or alkaline, the leaves of azaleas are likely to turn yellow with stunted growth, and the plant will eventually die.

It is crucial to make sure your pot soil is acidic prior to planting to ensure that the plant will be healthy and bloom in the spring.

Azaleas placed in soil that is not in the ideal pH range can be saved by being relocated to soil that is suitable however, it could require a few months or more to recuperate.

The most efficient method to determine the pH of soil is to use soil gauges that precise in measuring soil pH and is suitable to test potting as well as garden soil to allow you to plant your garden with certainty. The best part is that they are sold at a reasonable price on Amazon.

To make sure that your soil is in the correct pH for azaleas, I suggest plant with an ericaceous (acidic) pot soil that is available on the internet and at garden shops. Check out my guide for more details on the best soil mix for pots that are both outdoor and indoor Azaleas.

Key Takeaways:

  • Drought is among the most significant risks facing potted azaleas since the roots are small and require the soil used for potting to remain moist, but not completely saturated. Pots for outdoor use can dry out rapidly in sun, and indoor pots can dry out due to the presence of the heat sources in the home.
  • If possible, water with rainwater since rainwater can be acidic (azaleas require soil that is acidic) as well as tap water is typically acidic (7) or alkaline.
  • Azaleas are often affected by root rot when placed in pots that do not have drainage holes at the base. The drip tray or drip pots collect the water, and the soil is flooded. The signs of root rot are the drooping of foliage and yellow/brown leaves.
  • The growth rate can be reduced or the plant could have fewer blooms because of the lack fertile soil. Introduce slow release fertilizers in spring. It is an azalea-specific plant food that has the correct amount of nutrients.
  • Azaleas like partial shade. If they are not getting enough sunlight, azaleas will show less growth and less flowers, however with excessive direct sunlight, azalea leaves will become brown and flowers will quickly wilt and the chance of drought is increased because of soil evaporation and transpiration of the leaves. Morning sun , followed by shade from the intense midday sun, and afternoon sun is the ideal time for all climates, and also the dappled light of the canopy of a tree.
  • Room temperatures that fluctuate are an issue for azaleas since rooms that are too hot could cause leaf loss and drought. Make sure indoor azaleas are out of the path of air flow as well as away from radiators.
  • Azaleas require a potting soil that is acidic with a pH of 4 to 6. When the soil pH is more the pH 7 range, neutral, or even alkaline, the roots of the azaleas will not be capable of absorbing the nutrients that the plant needs. The signs of stress are the appearance of yellowed foliage, stunted growth, and less flowers. Add peat moss or ericaceous compost (both acidic) prior to planting azaleas into pots to ensure the proper pH to ensure an azalea that is healthy.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)