Azaleas are an extremely common and popular type of flowering bush. Coming in both dwarf and full-sized types, these members of the Rhododendron family do well in a wide range of landscapes. Though the bushes are most commonly planted directly into their permanent location in the soil, those without the growing space may grow bright, colorful blooming plants in containers.
In fact, many cultivars of this ornamental plant grow exceptionally well when potted into containers and grown outdoors. Though most azalea plants are hardy and robust, they will require some special care to survive from one season to the next. Becoming more familiar with winterizing outdoor potted azaleas will be key to growing this plant for years to come.
Outdoor Winter Azalea Care
Before planting azaleas in containers, growers will need to learn more about their own climate and growing zone. While many cultivars of this plant are hardy to USDA zone 4, plants that are grown in containers are more susceptible to cold. Additionally, those wishing to maintain potted azaleas in winter will need to make certain to only choose pots which are able to withstand freezing conditions.
- Potted azaleas in winter will need special care to ensure that the plant does not dry out. For many, this will mean frequently checking the container and adding water as necessary. The plants should never be watered during periods of freezing weather. Next, growers will need to protect the pots from cold temperatures.
- Though the plants are naturally cold tolerant, potted azalea cold tolerance can vary greatly. Therefore, growers need to take precautions to keep the plant healthy. In winter, azalea care will require that the pot is protected from the cold. This is commonly done by sinking the pot into the ground. After the pot has been placed into the ground, many suggest covering it with several inches (8 cm.) of mulch. Just make sure the mulch does not come into contact with the azalea plant stem, as this may cause issues with rot.
- If sinking the container into the ground is not an option, the azalea plants can be stored in a minimally heated or protected location where it will not freeze. Locations, such as near exterior walls, are often naturally warmer. These microclimates can help protect plants from extreme cold.
- Containers may also be surrounded with insulating materials such as straw bales or frost blankets to further protect the potted azalea plant. In extreme conditions, you may want to bring the potted plant indoors.