Q: I have several ‘George L. Taber’ azaleas. In winter, their leaves turn yellow, then slowly to brown, and then they drop off the plant. This is happening to all of the plants. I don’t think they need water as we have had several good rains in the past few weeks.
A: Some Oriental azalea varieties are not totally evergreen, they are only semi-evergreen. Depending on temperature and weather events they may drop up to three-quarters of their leaves in winter.
Typically the leaves produced in spring, i.e. those growing several inches below the branch tips, are most likely to drop. Leaves produced in summer are tougher and less likely to fall.
If the leaves at the tips of the branches are green but only the lower leaves are dropping, your azaleas are behaving naturally.
On the other hand, if ALL of the leaves on an azalea are yellow and dropping I might suspect it is growing in a poorly drained site and root rot has occurred.