What are suitable planting sites for azaleas and rhododendrons?
Proper site selection is important when planting azaleas and rhododendrons. Azaleas prefer partial to full sun. Rhododendrons perform best in protected sites in partial shade. Areas that receive morning sun and afternoon shade are usually good sites for rhododendrons. Avoid windy, exposed sites. During the winter months, strong winds and bright sunlight can dry out rhododendron foliage and cause extensive leaf burn.
Azaleas and rhododendrons require well-drained, acidic soils. The preferred soil pH for azaleas and rhododendrons is 4.0 to 5.5. However, the pH of most garden soils in Iowa ranges from 6.5 to 7.5. The soil pH needs to be lowered to successfully grow azaleas and rhododendrons. Planting azaleas and rhododendrons in wet, poorly drained soils usually results in their death. Gardeners with poorly drained sites should build berms or raised beds to insure good drainage.