Struggling Azalea

Hello all,

I am greatly concerned about my little azalea. Has had brown tips on the leaves developing throughout this year. Corrected my water pH and have been supplementing with CalMag. Now the leaves are starting to yellow as well. Anyone have any suggestions on what else I might do to save this little tree?


1 Like

Cal mag is a once or twice a year application! More importantly to correct you water Ph and hardness. Ph alone is not enough! Correctimg a high ph with acids etc works to a point but if your water is really hard ie: TDS 240-250 ppm. The ph will rise again over a few days.

Would be healpful to say where (about) you are.
What’s the soil mix?
Did you measure your pH, or just adjust, and with what, and for how long ago?

Thanks Nick & Kurt,

I live in Spokane, WA and am a newbie. This azalea is still in a nursery pot with nursery soil. Was hoping to put it in a pot with kanuma/pumice in the Spring, but not sure if that will be a good idea at this point or not if it even survives until then.

I have been adjusting our water pH the past couple of months with acetic acid but will definitely check the water hardness next. That might be my problem. Not sure on the best method to check the actual soil pH.

The rest of the trees I have bought to start on seem to be doing fine. This is my only azalea so far.


What are your watering habits?

What are the characteristics of the water you are trying to correct? Is it hard or soft? Sounds like it is alkaline…and you are correcting the pH before watering. Well water or municipal?

Whatever is throwing the plant off is doing a good job of it. I think if it was healthy before purchase, I would ask the nursery what they had
been doing…and whether they had it long or it just came in. If it was raised from cuttings (my guess) then they must have been doing something right to propagate and get it started off well. Most azaleas do fine for a few years in nursery mix. I have one I will repot in January that has been in nursery soil for two years so far and it is healthy…so I doubt it is the soil.

Hi Bentley,

During the heat of summer I watered most of my trees 2 times daily. This fall I have watered at most once a day depending on how dry the soil felt. Not much watering lately.


Thanks for your thoughts and recommenations Don,
My water is municipal, it is indeed alkaline (>8.00), and is hard (have not measured that yet, but we had to get a water softener for our dishwasher). Correcting pH with acetic acid down to between 6.00 to 6.50.

Okay, sounds similar to my schedule, but mine is in a kanuma/pumice mix. I asked about watering because the browning of the tips looks like an overwatering issue. If it’s in nursery soil it could be holding onto too much moisture.

In the yard during even on the hottest of days my water loving annuals only needed to be watered once a day. Bonsai of course needed to be watered twice. However, I’ve either killed or just about killed any plant I had on the benches that were still in nursery cans and thus nursery soil. They just didn’t need as much.

I kept that in mind with my little rhododendron and it did well. Of course there were a few times that I went too far in the other direction and let it dry out too much. :weary:

With the onset of fall/winter and your reduced watering it would appear that the little azalea will make it to the repot.

As far as watering goes; this year I set up a rain barrel so I could get away from tap water. My tap water is about 8.4. Rain water measured around 6.4. When switching to rain water I found that I had to supplement with CalMag for my maples.


This might be totally off, but could this just be winter color? I have a couple of Azaleas, and they definitely change colors around this time of the year.

Deciduous azaleas are not as common, but should have thought of that. They are native to the NW and very cool, IMO. Here is what one variety looks like in the fall, and not in a pot.

This one is a very dark leaved variety, and it actually just bloomed recently before starting its dormancy. It is much cooler where you live, so how the dormancy progresses could be vastly different than here on the balmy west side.

Again, knowing from the nursery what specific plant you are dealing with and what could be expected would be the place to start. I too wonder (now) if it might be a deciduous azalea.

A recent thread had a listing of online ways to purchase Azaleas.
I have been unable to locate it. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Embarrasingly, yes, I think you are right. This was suggested by others privately, and on further research I learned that my species of azalea is actually deciduous! I had not idea there were deciduous azaleas out there. I still appear to have an over-watering issue, but now I think the leaves are just turning and my tree is not dying thankfully. But an embarrasing newbie mistake :slight_smile:


I think you are right Don. See my other reply. Thanks for continuing to think on this :slight_smile:

1 Like

Hi Jeffery, It probably isn’t fully deciduous. The summer leaves turn yellow and drop off. You may however be left with green leaves at the tips of the branches. These are called winter resting leaves. Although looking at your photos it would appear not. If it’s been in the nursery pot for quite a while it may be pot bound. In which case water may not bee reaching the centre of the rootball and the roots directly below the trunk are critical for health.

1 Like

That thing looks haggard I would be quite surprised if you can bring it back. When did it begin to look that way even if it is not evergreen if it started going down hill during the summer I would say it’s game over.

I hope you are wrong, but thanks for your input!

Sorry Jeffrey that was harsh. I hope you can get it healthy again.

1 Like

Regarding azalea soil, most azalea people I know here in the SF Bay area recommend potting in 100% kanuma. It is the perfect substrate for them.

Just sayin.

Is this a Satsuki azalea or a garden variety (excuse the pun)? I would second the recommendation to contact the nursery where you purchased it.

The first fall/winter I had my azalea, some of the older leaves turned yellow and quite a few dropped off in the fall. I would suggest continuing to work on your water issues. You may want to slip it out of the nursery pot to check on the root condition. With nursery material, you never know how long it’s been in the pot and it may be root bound.

Good luck! I love my azalea; if this one doesn’t work out, don’t give up.

1 Like