Properly Spacing Your Azaleas

What You'll Need
Azalea plants
Acidic soil

Azalea plants and shrubs can quickly outgrow their surroundings if not spaced properly. Depending on the variety, some plants may be 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall, while others may reach heights of 10 feet. Follow these steps for proper spacing of azaleas for the best garden results.

Step 1 – Check Growing Requirements Before Purchase

When shopping for an azalea plant or shrub, carefully check the grower’s label for proper care and maintenance. This will include instructions on spacing as well as soil, sun and moisture requirements. A little diligence ahead of time will prevent unnecessary transplanting later.

Step 2 – Do A Site Analysis For Space

Measure the space available in the garden or landscape to determine whether it can accommodate the azalea plant or shrub. Is the plant a variety that’s considered a low-lying shrub? Is it a medium-sized variety? Is it one of the larger varieties? All these must be factored in when deciding where to plant azaleas. If the mature plant will grow to:

  • Under 3 Feet Tall - Space the plants 2 feet apart.
  • 3 to 5 Feet Tall - Leave about 30 inches between each plant.
  • 8 to 10 Feet Tall - Give plants a lot of room to grow and expand, with 4 to 6 feet of spacing between each.

Step 3 – Dry Placement Prior To Planting

Before setting shovel to soil, situate the azalea plants in the planned location. Remember that they should be planted for future look, not present container size. Factor in how tall and wide the plant will be at maturity and space accordingly. They’ll look a little sparse spaced that way at first, but they’ll soon fill in nicely.

Low-growing plants and shrubs are perfect for under-window locations. Medium-sized azaleas are great focal point specimen plants. Large hybrid shrub-like azaleas can create an excellent garden backdrop or privacy barrier.

Step 4 – Dig, Plant, Mulch And Water

If the dry placement is sufficient, move the containers aside and dig the holes to accommodate the plants. Then carefully remove each azalea from its container, loosen the root ball and place in the newly-dug hole to the same depth it was in the container. Cover loosely with soil, but do not mound to the stem. Press firmly with fingers to remove air pockets.

Mulch the azalea plant to a depth of several inches to help retain moisture. Water deeply and thoroughly with a garden hose. This will allow the water to percolate through the soil and expose any areas that need additional soil.

Step 5 – When To Transplant

Sometimes—despite the best intentions, or just because an azalea has overgrown its surroundings—you may need to transplant your azaleas for better spacing. Take a photo of the plant to the nursery or go online to research the height/width and spacing requirements. Once identified, you’ll know how much room the azalea needs and can proceed to transplant it to its new home. Follow steps 3 and 4 above.

Remember, azaleas will grow easily in rich, acidic soil, with proper drainage and mulch. They prefer morning sun and bright, filtered afternoon light. Space them properly and attend to their needs, and your azaleas will continue to delight for many seasons.