Q: I have some azalea bushes that are dying in my yard and I don’t know why. Over the last three months, little by little, branches have died. Now, this entire bush is about dead and the others are also starting with this same symptom. What do I need to do?
A: Despite the soaker hoses I see nearby, the azalea root balls got dried out within the last couple of months. I doubt they will survive.
In my experience, after spring planting, shrubs require a weekly soaking for four months to keep the new shrub’s root system moist.
Physics explains that water always moves out from the nursery soil around the roots into the coarse native soil you plant into. In other words, your native soil is constantly drying out the soil around the roots. Even when the native soil is soggy from the soaker hose, water won’t move from there to the rootball.
When watering, always direct your hose at the base of the plant, soaking the rootball thoroughly. Wait a week and repeat. Stop watering when the plant no longer gets droopy between waterings.