Skip to main content

Good better best: The best fertilizer for your azaleas

Azaleas are a favorite shrub for many gardeners. They have beautiful flowers in a range of colors, and they’re the perfect size for most gardens, lawns, and walkway borders. If you have poor soil, or if you’re trying to grow bigger blooms, you may want to fertilize your azaleas. However, not every fertilizer is a good fit for azaleas. Azaleas are particular about their soil pH, so any fertilizer that changes the soil pH could do more harm than good. These three slow release or controlled release fertilizers, made just for azaleas, will keep your soil pH stable while providing the nutrients your azaleas need.

Good: Jobe’s Azalea, Camellia, & Rhododendron Fertilizer Spikes

If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use fertilizer that gets the job done, then this fertilizer is a good choice for you. It contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium –– the essentials for plant growth –– with a balance of 9-8-7. The spikes are pre-proportioned, so you don’t have to measure out your fertilizer. The downside to that is that you have slightly less control over how much fertilizer you’re giving your plants. Each bag contains ten spikes, which, depending on the size of your plant, can be anywhere from ten to two and a half uses. Additionally, this product is well reviewed on Amazon, with over 700 reviews and an average star rating of 4.6 out of 5.

In short:

  • Pros
    • Pre-portioned
    • All necessary nutrients
    • Well reviewed
  • Cons
    • Not as much control
    • Not organic

Better: Safer Brand 94AH Azalea & Holly Restore Fertilizer

If organic gardening is your passion, then Safer Brand fertilizer may be the better option for your garden. This fertilizer has the OMRI seal of approval and is listed for organic gardening, so you can be certain your azaleas are fully organic. Safer Brand Azalea Restore Fertilizer has all the necessary nutrients your azaleas need, with a balance of 4-3-3, and is pet and kid friendly. This fertilizer does come in a smaller bag, which means refilling more often. It also lacks product reviews across multiple platforms, although the brand itself is highly rated.

In short:

  • Pros
    • OMRI certified
    • Pet and kid friendly
    • Contains necessary nutrients
  • Cons
    • Smaller bag
    • Not as well reviewed

Best: Nelson Acid Loving Plant Food

The best option on our list is Nelson Acid Loving Plant Food. This fertilizer comes in a range of sizes, from 2 to 25 pounds, so you can pick the size that best fits your needs. It has the three essential nutrients –– nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium –– as well as iron and sulfur. Iron and sulfur are important micronutrients which, while typically provided for entirely by soil, can be excellent to have in a fertilizer if your soil is lacking them. The nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium balance is 9-13-11. That makes this fertilizer the best choice if you’re looking for bigger and brighter flowers, as that is the main role of phosphorus. There are nearly 200 reviews for this product on Amazon alone, with an average star rating of 4.6. That may not be as many reviews as Jobe’s, but it’s certainly enough to be trustworthy.

In short:

  • Pros
    • Essential nutrients plus micronutrients
    • Range of sizes
    • Higher phosphorus content
    • Decently well reviewed
  • Cons
    • Not organic

These are our top three fertilizers for azaleas, and any of them would help your azaleas grow and thrive. Remember that it’s always a good idea to test your soil before adding anything to it, so you can avoid overloading your plant with a particular nutrient. Now it’s up to you to decide which fertilizer is the best fit for your garden. It may be helpful to list out what qualities you want in a fertilizer, and check your list against our handy bullet list summaries of each fertilizer’s pros and cons. No matter which fertilizer you chose, your azaleas will thank you!

Editors' Recommendations

Cayla Leonard
Cayla Leonard is a writer from North Carolina who is passionate about plants.  She enjoys reading and writing fiction and…
Ornamental grasses add texture and color to your garden – how to grow these 6 different varieties
Caring for these ornamental grasses in your yard or garden
Pink muhly grass

Although there are countless varieties of grass, so many of them look the same. It can be difficult to find grass that really stands out in your garden. That’s where ornamental grasses come in. Ornamental grasses like pink muhly grass, purple fountain grass, and switchgrass can add color and texture to your garden borders just like flowers would. Wondering which ornamental grass to choose for your garden? Here are a few of our favorites!
What makes a grass ornamental?
You may think that all grass is ornamental. After all, we grow lawns because they look nice, not because we use them for food. You wouldn’t be entirely wrong in thinking that. Ornamental grass is still grass; it’s just grass that looks different. However, ornamental grass includes grass-like plants such as sedge, as well as true grass varieties.

Ornamental grasses come in a range of appearances besides the short, green look of classic lawn grasses. Often, ornamental grasses are tall, with some growing to 15 feet tall or more. Many are colorful and patterned, and they may have an interesting flower or seed head. Since there are so many varieties, there are ornamental grasses that will fit almost any garden or yard. Many gardeners use ornamental grasses as borders, but some varieties can make great additions to container gardens or flower gardens.

Read more
Quaking aspens are tall, beautiful, and easier to care for than you might expect
Read here and learn how to grow quaking aspens
Quaking aspen trees

Quaking aspens are native deciduous trees with striking and easily recognizable silhouettes. They have tall, thin trunks wrapped in white or silver bark. Although they are stunning all year long, with small white flowers in the spring and round green leaves in the summer, quaking aspens are perhaps most famous for their brilliant gold color of fall foliage. In addition to their beauty, quaking aspens are also extremely good for the environment. If you’re thinking about planting a quaking aspen tree in your yard, this is the care guide for you.
How to plant a quaking aspen
When choosing your planting site, there are a few key things to look for. First, your planting site should be well away from power lines, buildings, or other structures that tree growth could damage. Quaking aspens typically grow to between 30 and 50 feet tall (although some can grow much taller) and their longest branches can grow up to 30 feet long, so make sure your tree has plenty of room.

Your location should also be in full sun with rich, moist soil. Quaking aspens need at least 4 to 6 hours of sun each day in order to grow properly. In addition to the sun, a quaking aspen needs plenty of water and nutrients. Adding compost to your soil before you begin planting can help improve poor soil. Although it needs moist soil, avoid planting your quaking aspen in wetlands or dips where water pools, as too much standing water can lead to fungal infections.

Read more
Blazing stars will fill your summer garden with color: A liatris care guide
Growing and caring for liatris
Tall purple liatris (blazing star) with butterflies

There are many wonderful plants you can add to your summer flower garden for stunning color, from tall and bright sunflowers to short and sweet zinnia. If you’re planning your garden now, you should definitely consider adding liatris, also called blazing star, to the mix! This tall, drought-tolerant, native perennial has stunning purple flowers. It’ll even attract butterflies. Here’s everything you need to know about planting and caring for liatris.
Planting liatris
You can plant liatris bulbs in the spring or fall, but you can transplant mature plants during any season. Choose a location with full sun and well-draining soil to plant your liatris in. Blazing stars can tolerate some light shade, but they won’t thrive unless they get at least 6 hours of sun each day. Spacing is important when planting liatris, as they can grow to 2 feet high and 1.5 feet wide. Plant your liatris bulbs 12 to 15 inches apart so they have plenty of space to grow.

In addition to having well-draining soil, it should also be average or poor. Many plants prefer soil that's rich with organic matter, but liatris has an unusual quirk! The flower stalks will sometimes bend or flop over if the soil is too rich.

Read more