Martha Stewart Divulges Her Best Tips For Planting Azaleas

The azalea, a beautiful flowering bush that comes in a variety of rich and vibrant colors, can be stunning in any yard. A member of the genus Rhododendron, the azalea is incredibly low-maintenance: They grow vigorously and easily, and are hardy in any climate. They can also grow to be quite large, given certain conditions. For all these reasons and more, azaleas are a favorite of home and garden guru Martha Stewart, who has planted a wide variety on her own grounds.

How do you get azaleas to reach their fullest potential? Stewart has many tips. Fertilizer is key, but not just any fertilizer — this shrubs needs a precise ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to bloom as brightly as possible. The size of the hole you deposit your azalea into is also key. Planting an azalea shrub in said hole isn't as simple as you might expect, either. This might sound like a lot of work, but it's worth it. As Stewart remarked on her popular blog, "Of all the shrubs that flower in spring, azaleas provide some of the most brilliant displays." She recently took to TikTok, to offer further tips on planting these gorgeous bushes.

Planting your azaleas

In her blog, Stewart reveals that one of the best ways to get beautiful azaleas is to start with a careful selection of bushes from your local home store or nursery. Look for plants that are sturdy, with good root systems and vigorous branching. Make sure you find no signs of damage from pests or disease. Then, the time comes to plant. Put your azaleas in well-drained soil that is rich with organic matter. Planting these lovely shrubs in locations that avoid direct sunlight during the hottest and brightest parts of the day — especially in summer — is also a good idea: This will keep them from drying out.

In a recent TikTok video, Stewart provided even more tips. As she demonstrates, you should feed and water your azalea bush very well during planting; she uses Miracle Gro's Miracid mix, which contains a potent blend of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. This fertilizer uses a 30-10-10 ratio: 30% nitrogen, 10% potassium, and 10% phosphorus, specifically. Pouring this blend, plus abundant water, over the bush during the planting process allows the nutrients to fully access the roots and start the plant off right with all it needs.

Maintaining your azaleas

Martha Stewart suggests digging a hole slightly larger in diameter than your azalea plant, to fully accommodate it. However, it should only be as deep as the root ball. This will allow the surrounding soil to remain loose and aerated at an important time in the growth process. Place the bush into the hole and douse the roots with fertilizer and water before you fill it in with dirt and mulch.

The success of you azaleas can depend on whether or not you maintain proper acidity in the soil by performing regular soil checks. Look for a granular fertilizer, and apply it early in the spring or after the plant's first flowering for best results. Stewart and her crew suggest keeping pruning to a minimum to keep the wild and lush look of the bush as it grows. But do remove dead and damaged sections, and arrange tangled and overlapping branches before they flower every year for the best possible results.