Summer Perennials for May Planting

Here are a few of our favorite perennials that provide color over a long season.  These are relatively easy to grow and last to bloom again in future years.  Now is a great time to plant them because the selection is high and the weather is still fairly mild.

Beard Tongue (Penstemon sp.)Beard Tongue (Penstemon sp.)
Elegant and reliable perennials; valued by gardeners for their spires of foxglove-like flowers. Outstanding color varieties make it difficult to choose just one. Hummingbirds aren’t choosy, they like them all. They will perform all summer with regular deadheading, full sun & good garden soil.

Gaura LindheimeriGaura Lindheimeri
Gaura means “superb” and it really is. Imagine tall, loose wands of pinkish white stars, dancing on the wind. From spring to fall, this plant will flourish on a hot, dry slope, and in many other water-restricted sites. Blended with other perennials, it serves as a softening element for brighter colors. Give it a full season to establish. Choose ‘Passionate Rainbow,’ ‘Ballerina White,’ and others.

Lavender (Lavendula sp.)Lavender (Otto Quast, English, and French)
These heat-of-summer bloomers produce fragrant flower spikes that you’ll love. Their lavender blue flowers are great for dry arrangements, sachets, or they may be made into aromatic stove-top potpourri simply by boiling. Cool the water, strain; use as a counter-top cleaner. Different varieties range in height from 18″ to 3′ with an equal spread. Best selections are ‘Hidcote,’ ‘Munstead,’ ‘Dentata candicans’, and Spanish varieties. Well-drained soil is essential.

salvia180Salvia Greggii
Known as Autumn Sage, they are available in a number of flower colors – red, yellow, pink, white and purple. Erect growth to about three feet with medium green foliage. Blooms for much of the season, spring through fall. Plant in full sun.


DSCF9306Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Evergreen Perennial usually in the range of 18″ high, creating a spreading mat much of the year, then stretching to full height when it blooms with white, cream, pink red or yellow “landing pads”. butterflies love them and so do ladybugs!


Russian Sage (Perovski atriplicifolia)Russian Sage (Perovski atriplicifolia)
Once you grow this, you’ll understand why it was voted 1995’s Perennial of the Year. It remains a true favorite, flowering from July into fall with no grooming. There are no significant pest or disease problems, probably due to its fragrant silver foliage. It grows to 3′ and looks spectacular when mass planted with yellow daylilies.

ErigeronSanta Barbara Daisy
One of the easiest daisies to grow, and very water-wise.  Adds a sparkle to the flower garden, usually grows about 12″ high and 18″ wide. Blooms heavily in spring and then moderately through the warm season.


peonies1Peonies are among the most adaptable perennials for North America. We have many of them in several forms, including some blooming now.  Peonies are right at home in our area, growers once grew them commercially in Sunol for the cut flower market.

Peonies include a variety of flower forms and beautiful colors with attractive foliage that remains long after the flowers have faded. They can serve as an interesting accent along a shrub border, fence or wall. If planted close together, an informal hedge effect can be created.

Available in a wide range of colors, from dazzling white to deep maroon, and various flower forms, peonies work well as a subtle divider as a shrub-like backdrop for annual flowers; or along a driveway or property line. Their flowers and foliage make them a versatile landscaping addition for planting in the middle range of perennial borders or in beds by themselves.

Whether perennial bush or “tree” form they will make a lovely addition to your garden. The bush form renews itself each spring with new shoots emerging from the ground. They grow into soft green shrubby plants that will reach 2-3 feet high. Choose a sunny spot for the best bloom. They love acid soil so use Master Nursery Acid Planting Mix for best results.

The tree form, (really a shrub), does best when planted in morning or filter sun. These faithfully bloom each year on their woody stems. In the winter the plant loses its leaves but the woody stems remain. The plant will slowly grow to a height of 4 to 5 feet, Its flower can be a foot across. The flowers on both are made up of big soft crepe paper-like petals. Choose from varieties that are pure white, soft yellow, light and dark pink as well as burgundy. Some are fully double and others are single with a yellow center.

Itoh Peonies are new hybrids from Monrovia. Tree and bush forms were crossed to create this wonderful new addition. Come see them in bloom!



Checklist for May Gardening

checkbox[1] Protect your cherry crop! Prevent wormy fruit. Start spraying weekly when the fruit has formed but is still green. Spinosad and Malathion are sprays to consider.

checkbox[1]Feed roses now and every two weeks for maximum rose production. Use MaxSea plus Kelp Sea Life for the trace elements and minerals.

checkbox[1] Thin apple and peach crops if too much fruit has set, you’ll get fewer but larger, juicier fruit.

checkbox[1] Timing is important for grub control. If you had trouble with grubs last summer and fall, now is the time to ready a treatment plan for prevention. Treating your lawn in May with Bonide Grub Beater or Nematodes while the grubs are young and vulnerable is best. Use Nematodes in your vegetable garden.

checkbox[1] Ladybugs and praying mantis to the rescue! Control aphids, beetles, scale, and leafhoppers naturally.

checkbox[1] Deep-root water trees and shrubs. Never depend on lawn watering to take care of trees and shrubs. Begin deep watering with a Ross Root Feeder now and continue monthly through the hot summer season. The use of soaker hoses helps deliver deep water as well.

checkbox[1] Plant 4-inch vegetable plants and save several weeks of growing time. Remember to protect them from hungry snails and slugs with pet safe Sluggo or Sluggo Plus. Both are labeled for organic gardening, both control slugs, Sluggo Plus controls insects too.

checkbox[1] Scale insects affect citrus as well as a slew of ornamentals. Adults are little stationary bumps on stems and leaves. Offspring hide beneath mother’s protective shell, venturing out as the weather warms searching for a new place to colonize. Control by spraying with Bonide All Season Spray Oil; or for tough cases on ornamental plants apply Malathion, or Captain Jack’s All Organic Spray.

checkbox[1] Do you have bugs on your vegetables? Use vegetable safe Bonide All Season Spray Oil.

checkbox[1] Prevent olive fruit set with Florel Fruit Eliminator. Spray the olive when the tree has just reached full bloom. Olive flowers are very small, so watch closely. Full bloom usually occurs in early May. Spray the whole tree thoroughly. We have the names of commercial spray companies that can help too.

checkbox[1] Mulching does wonders for your garden. As well as looking good, mulching conserves water and suppresses weeds and keeps roots cool. We suggest a mulch layer 4 inches thick. We are especially fond of Micro-bark because it looks good and breaks down relatively soon. Don’t mulch right up to the plant trunk or stem. Leave 4 to 6 inches of breathing room.

checkbox[1] Whitewash the trunks of fruit trees with Tree Trunk White. Applying a whitewash coating to the trunk will reflect heat away from the tender tissue and protect the trees.

checkbox[1] Regular feeding for Citrus. Citrus trees perform well with monthly light feedings of fertilizer specifically formulated for Citrus. This will ensure that your tree gets a nice even supply of food year round instead of occasional periods of highs or lows. We recommend Master Nursery Citrus Food, or for a completely organic approach, use E.B. Stone Citrus and Fruit Tree Fertilizer. Make quarterly applications of Iron Sulfate for optimum feeding and greening.

checkbox[1] Turflon Esther for Bermuda grass control controls that wiry-stemmed, nuisance weed Bermuda grass. It also works wonders on Oxalis, a yellow clover look-alike.

checkbox[1] Prep your roses for the second wave of bloom! Cut back and feed roses as the first set of blooms fade. Feed with Master Nursery Rose and Flower Food. Water, and stand back. Roses typically re-bloom 6 weeks after pruning and feeding. For a special treatment, feed roses with water soluble Maxsea. It can be sprayed on the leaves and gives the plant a dark glossy appearance.

Planting Cucumbers, Melons & Pumpkins

Join us on May 13th at 10:00 a.m. as we discuss planting your melons, cucumbers, and pumpkins. We will also cover the subject of fungus control.

  • Top Cucumbers: Diva • Japanese • Persian • Lemon; Spaced two feet apart.
  • Top Pumpkins: Atlantic Giant • Howden’s Best • New England Pie • Jack B’ Little; Spaced five feet apart (plant pumpkins from seed through mid-June).
  • Top Melons: Ambrosia • Hale’s Best • Cantaloupe; Spaced five feet apart.

Conditions: All like sunny conditions, however, cucumbers can use support along a fence or trellis. Pumpkins and Melons prefer lots of room to grow. They will spread out from the center with large leaves filling any available space about a foot from the ground.

Planting Times: Try to plant seeds 1-2 weeks after the average last frost, but only if the weather will be consistently warm for a week (2-4 weeks for pumpkins). They prefer to start when the soil temperature is warm; during April-May. Any sprouted seedlings in a cell pack can be put in the ground right away. This allows them the time to acclimate to their new home.

Soil: 50% native soil, 50% Bumpercrop®

Water and Feeding: Regular water (3x per week). Keep cucumbers evenly moist to prevent bitter fruitGive new plants a gentle boost with E.B. Stone’s Organic Starter Fertilizer®, then feed monthly with Master Nursery Tomato and Vegetable Food® or E.B. Stone’s Organic Tomato and Vegetable Fertlizer®. Apply the fertilizer sparsely around the base of the plant. It can be mixed into the soil or left underneath a thick layer of mulch.

Prevention: To prevent weeds, use Concern Organic Weed Preventer. Apply to soil surface right after planting and water in. Add mulch to further reduce weed growth. A thick layer of mulch will make it easier to remove weeds and provides insulation for your soil. For weed elimination, spray weeds with undiluted distilled vinegar. Take care to not get vinegar on veggie leaves.

Solution to Common Problems: Cucumbers: Careful pruning and training on a trellis will lead to a stronger network of stems to support your large cucumbers. Allow spiders a home in between stems, or let loose some ladybugs or praying mantis on your plants to eat potential pests. Pumpkins & Melons: Mulch will prevent mud from splashing onto your pumpkins & melons. (Use organic veggie fertilizer to feed your pumpkins monthly and make them grow even bigger!)

Pest Control: Sprinkle soil/mulch surface with pet-safe Sluggo®. Place a SLUGX® container under the leaves using beer as an attractant and pest-killer. Bird netting can deter both birds and small animals from nibbling on your cucumbers.

Support: Cucumbers: Use big stakes connected with bird netting to create a fine trellis that doubles as an animal repellent. They are naturally curly on the ground when grown without a trellis. Pumpkins & Melons: Keep them on a flat even surface to minimize gravity’s effect on their shape.

Harvesting: Cucumbers: Begin growing in the summer around July and should be harvested before they get too mature. Use pruning shears to cut the stem an inch from the fruiting body. Pumpkins & Melons: (depending on their planting time and desired size) Use a Razor Tooth Pruning Saw to harvest your pumpkins from late summer to early winter, and your melons from late summer to fall.

Reference for planting times:

Add Smoke Tree for Dark Drama

Smoke trees are showing off spring foliage and wispy flowers right now. Our resident smoke tree is currently blooming near our water garden.

Smoke trees are typically dark red small trees or large shrubs to about 12 feet, Golden Sprite is a lime green variety that prefers afternoon shade. They are perfect for a patio or a tree near the front entry. Come in for a look!

After leafing out in spring with dark, intense purple or brilliant chartreuse, Smoke trees come into bloom with a cloud of purple (or light green) smoke. The “flowers” are so light and airy they appear to be just a cloud.

Successful examples of the smoke tree in the garden demonstrate they are best planted in full sun. You don’t have to worry too much about watering after it is established, they have been seen growing in places without additional water similar to some native plants. They will appreciate water once or twice a month when established. Give them water a couple times a week for 2 years to establish.

May Vegetable Guide

Vegetable Plant Time Amount
(family of 4)
Special Notes Plant Now
Artichoke Year ’round 3 – 4 plants Permanent, perennial.
4″ Pots
Beans, lima May – June 15 – 25 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
Beans, String April – May Then later again in July and August 15 – 25 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest.
From Starts or Seeds
Cantaloupes/Other melons April – June 5 – 10 hills Soil must be warm.
From Starts or Seeds
Carrots Year ’round 20 – 30 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest.
From Seeds
Chayote May – June 1 – 2 plants Vine
Chives Year ’round 1 clump Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts or Seeds
Corn, sweet April – July 20 – 30 ft. row Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. Soil must be warm.
From Starts or Seeds
Cucumbers April – July 6 plants N/A
From Seeds
Eggplant April – June 4 – 6 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts
Okra May 10 – 20 ft. row N/A
From Starts
Parsley Year ’round 1 – 2 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts
Parsnips May – July 10 – 15 ft. row N/A
Peppers April – July 5 – 10 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown
From Starts
Pumpkins April – June 1 – 3 plants N/A
From Starts or seeds
Radishes Year ’round 4 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest.
From Seed
Squash, summer April – July 2 – 4 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts or seeds
Squash, winter June – September 2 – 4 plants Known as winter Squash because it stores over winter but it grows in summer-fall.
From Starts or seeds
Strawberries June – September 12+ plants Bare root in November – 6-Pack arriving in Feb.
6-Packs Soon
Tomatoes March – July 6 – 10 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Weather permitting, starting in March is possible.
From Starts
Turnips February – August 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts
Watermelons April – June 6 plants N/A
From Seeds

Versatile Peppers Warm and Cool

Peppers are definitely a diverse group in the garden, from sweet to blazing hot.  Every garden needs at least one either to warm a dish or cool a plate. Peppers like growing conditions similar to tomatoes but benefit from a bit of late afternoon shade. The following describes a few we have on hand today.

80 Days to maturity. A mild California chili. Ripens from light green to dark green to red and grows 6-10 inches long by 1-2 inches wide. Can be used at any stage but is most often used green. Most often seared to remove the skins and then dipped in batter for chile rellenos. When red, it is hotter and usually dried for use. Many cultivars exist, hence their wide range on the Scoville scale (400-4000).

90-100 Days to maturity. A long (3-4″), thin, hot pepper. It is mature when red in color. Related to the Cayenne pepper, it rates 50,000-65,000 on the Scoville scale. Plants produce high yields. It is also dried, for craft projects.

(Hot) Very hot fruits 5 in. long and ½ in. thick. Use fresh or easily dried for winter use. Harvest starts about 75 days after plants are set out. CAUTION: Use rubber gloves, or clean hot peppers under running water, to avoid skin burn from the pepper juice. 50,000-65,000 on the Scoville rating.

90-100 days to maturity. A California hybrid similar to the jalapeno but meatier and thinner skinned. Medium hot when used green, hotter when red. Usually used fresh, not dried, in salsas. 5,000-10,000 on Scoville scale.

90-100 Days to maturity. Fruits are 1-2 inches long, and lantern shaped. They start out green and ripen to bright orange and are reported to have a slightly fruity or citrus after-taste but is hotter when red.. 200,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville scale! Plants are bushy and can overwinter in a greenhouse.

85 Days to maturity. Similar to a Jalapeno in size but thinner and meatier but most importantly, up to 5 times hotter! They emerge green and ripen to orange or red. 10,000 to 30,000 on the Scoville scale. Do not dry well.

80 Days to fruiting. Fruits are 3 inches long, smooth, green to red, with a slight taper and blunt end. Dry streaks or “stretch” marks are common and often indicate a hotter pepper. It is considered medium hot on the Scoville scale, rating 5,000-7,000. Can be eaten either green or red but is hotter when red.

70-80 Days to maturity. Fruits are 3-4 lobed, 6-8 inches long, have thick walls and a sweet, crisp flavor. Red bells provide 100% of the daily requirement for vitamin A.

70-80 Days to maturity. Fruits are 4 inches long and blocky, with thick skin and sweet flavor. This pepper does double duty as it can be eaten green or left to further ripen and enjoy it as a red bell.

65-70 days to harvest. Fruit is 4 ½ inches long by 2 ½ inches wide and color from green to orange to red. Mild flavor Plants are compact.

70 days to harvest. Fruits are 3-4 inches long and tapered and are best picked when they turn a deep ruby red. Flavor is sweet with a fruity finish. They are great for frying or in salads. Plants are compact. Burpee selection.

90 days to harvest. An exciting breakthrough sure to become the conversation piece of your summer garden. Habanero peppers have a distinctive taste, but… ‘Zavory’ is the first ever Habanero with a mild heat registering only 100 Scoville’s! You can bite into one just like an apple and survive to tell the tale. The beautiful, shiny, 1-2 inch cardinal red fruits appear in large numbers in late summer on vigorous branching 30″ plants. Burpee selection.


Hydrangeas are among gardeners’ favorite blooming shrubs, especially for the summer shade garden.  They are available in a wide variety of colors and types from white, pink, purple, blue and mixed colors “pistachio” colors. Their flowers are large and range in shapes from pom-pom-like globes to lace bouquets.

The different shades of blue, pink and white reflect the acidity level of the soil – blue or purple in acid soils, pink or purple/red in alkaline mixtures — this allows you to choose the color of your hydrangeas. In our Valley soil, hydrangeas are naturally pink, you can make yours blue by applying Hydra Blue aluminum sulfate.

Hydrangeas are low maintenance, fast growing and attractive both as single plants or mass planted. The variety, Endless Summer®, and its siblings have the ability to produce new flowers repeatedly. It is not unusual to see them blooming well into December, (older varieties typically bloom only once per year).

Choosing The Right Site
All hydrangeas perform best in dappled shade, with evenly moist, well-drained soil. Ideally, a location where they will get minimal morning sun and plenty of afternoon shade. A semi-shady corner set among ferns for color contrast will enhance any yard landscape. The plants have a stocky growth pattern and will reach 3-5 feet in height and width so be sure to choose an area with enough space.

Hydrangeas are “heavy drinkers,” we have found you can cut your waterings in half by adding Soil Moist polymer granules to your planting mix.

How To Plant Your Hydrangeas Step-by-step – Just follow these 4 easy steps:

  • Prepare a hole approximately twice the size of the root ball. Then mix the soil from the hole with an equal amount of Masters Acid Planting Mix. Add ½ cup Master Start and 2 Tbs of Soil Moist to the mix. Note: the Soil Moist is a water holding polymer that helps keep your Hydrangeas from running out of water.
  • Backfill the hole with this mixture leaving the top of the root ball at ½ inch higher than the surrounding soil.
  • Water thoroughly with a solution of Root Master B-1 and water. Use this solution with each watering for the next 4 weeks and keep moist in hot weather until well established.
  • Feed monthly from March through September with Master Nursery Camellia Azalea Gardenia Food.

Things You Will Need:

  • Masters Acid Planting Mix
  • Soil Moist
  • Master Start Fertilizer
  • Root Master B-1 Growth Enhancer


Vegetable Gardening Made Easy

There are several key elements necessary for a successful and fruitful garden, one of which is “Mother Nature”. We can’t always predict or control what nature brings us, but the following steps can help improve our success rate. The other elements are soil preparation, watering, feeding and pest control.

Soil Preparation
bumperSoil prep is the #1 key to a successful garden. Most of our valley soils have a high clay content and must be loosened to allow for proper drainage and better root growth. The addition of soil amendments or organic conditioners plays a big role in turning our heavy soil into “good garden loam”.

First, remove all large rocks, weeds, and debris from the planting area.  For a 10′ x 10′ sq. area,  rototil into the soil  5- 2 cubic foot bags of Bumper Crop, 4 pounds of E.B. Stone Organic Vegetable Food,  and  5 lbs of Iron Sulfate and between 5 and 40 pounds of gypsum.  This will provide you with a soil that is better draining and rich in nutrients.

See our “Recipe for Good Garden Soil” handout for descriptions of soil amendments.

matt013Vegetables may be started from seed or “starter” plants.  Seedling “starters”, or better yet, a 4-inch potted plant gives you a head start in the growing process and in many cases is more efficient for the urban garden.  However, if you start from seed, you will have to thin the seedlings as they grow to get stronger, healthier plants.

Spring planting is generally done after the danger of frost, which for the valley is the first week of April.  Spring/Summer crops include tomatoes, peppers, squashes, eggplants, cucumbers, corn, beans, pumpkins, strawberries, and melons.  Some of your leafy green vegetables can also be grown now if given some special care.

Fall planting is generally started as the summer heat subsides, which for the valley is on or about October 1st.  Fall/Winter crops include artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, kale, lettuces, mustards, onions, peas, rhubarb, swiss chard, spinach, and potatoes in January.

When planting small starter plants, be extra gentle with the stem where it enters the ground or crown of the plant, as it can be damaged easily in transplanting and then your plant will fail.  Also, make sure not to bury the stem of the plant under extra soil, the crown needs to “breathe”.   The exception is tomato plants, whose stems can be buried.  Each hair will turn into a root. When you plant, mix into the soil a “starter” fertilizer like Sure Start or Master Start.  This helps the young plants develop a stronger root system.

tomatovegfoodFertilization is the 2nd key component to a fruitful garden.  A “starter” fertilizer like Sure Start, will get your young transplant off to a good beginning.  After about 3-4 weeks you’ll need to start your regular fertilizing schedule.

We recommend using organic or organic based fertilizers once a month since they provide many benefits to the crops and soil.
Fertilizers should never be applied to dry, thirsty plants.  Water your plants first, let a couple hours pass then apply your fertilizer and then water the plants again.  Avoid feeding on extra hot days (over 85 degrees)

Tomato & Vegetable Food 4-5-3
E. B. Stone Tomato & Vegetable Food is formulated from quality natural organic ingredients for use throughout the vegetable garden as well as with soft fruits like strawberries.

It will contribute to even plant growth without producing excessive foliage at the expense of fruit. The additional phosphorous helps to ensure the production of high-quality fruits and vegetables.

The calcium in our Tomato & Vegetable fertilizer aids in preventing disorders like blossom end rot.

Watering is the 3rd key to a successful garden.  Water new transplants right away and keep young, establishing plants evenly moist. A maturing vegetable garden is perfectly suited to be water-wise since veggies will fruit better if kept on the dry side. Drip systems and soaker hoses can be used for the vegetable garden. Soaker hoses, although left on for an hour or more at a trickle can still reduce water use by as much as 70%.

With drip systems, you’ll need to use 3 emitters per plant, triangulated around the plant,  and run the system for 1 hour to start, then increase it to 2 hours when the plant has grown.  How frequently you will have to water depends mostly on your soil’s water holding capability and secondly on weather conditions.  In general, you want to thoroughly soak your vegetable plants and then let them go dry in between waterings.  When you see the plants wilting (droopy), and you know it’s been awhile since you’ve watered, then it’s time to water again.  However, temperature extremes will cause plants to droop even though they have enough water.

Mulching with 3-4 inches of shredded forest material helps to conserve water, moderate soil temperatures near the crown of the plant and discourage weeds.  Studies have also shown that plants that have been mulched, grow faster and develop higher yields in the long term.  We recommend any Master Nursery Bark material.  Mulch in late spring to allow the sun to warm the soil early on.

Pest Management
captainjThe first line of defense for your new plants is to protect them from snails, slugs, and earwigs.  Spread bait, “1 tablespoon per square yard” in a broad pattern out from the plant base of your plants with organic Sluggo Plus.  Read label directions for the frequency of reapplication.  For other pest problems, it is best to identify which pest you’re dealing with before treating.  If you are not sure what you’ve got, you can always bring some into the nursery in a sealed container.  Ladybugs make a good biological control for aphids and some other soft-bodied insects.  Captain Jack’s products, (Spinosad) and Bonide All Season Spray Oil are good broad spectrum pesticides that are organic (OMRI approved) and treat the majority of vegetable pests.

Other Tips & Hints

  • In spring, new plants should be transplanted into the ground late in the day, (just before sunset), so they will not suffer from heat stress.
  • Tomato flowers will not set fruit if nighttime temperatures drop below 55 degrees and usually will drop off.
  • When your tomatoes are blooming, shake the plants to aid in pollination. This will increase fruit set. (This is helpful with peppers too)
  • Even out watering on tomato plants once the fruit has set and begins to color.
  • Cooler night time temperatures delay the ripening of many spring veggies.
  • Mix a tablespoon of Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom Salts) in the bottom of the hole for tomatoes.


Planting Azaleas

azaleas-under-oakAzaleas are arguably the most beautiful of shade shrubs. They brighten the cool, shady spots in your landscape. Similar in culture to Ferns, Camellias, and Rhododendrons, they can be grouped together to create an inviting and colorful landscape. Azaleas are available in an amazing variety of colors and a few different species; some handling a little more sun.

Select the Proper Site
Azaleas are shade loving plants but most varieties will tolerate early morning sun. If you have an area with a bit more sun, “Southern Indica” Azaleas may tolerate sun as late as noon.  Azaleas prefer soils that drain well.

Preparing the Soil

  1. Dig a hole 1″ shallower and 2-3 times wider than the root ball. These plants are shallow rooted and their root ball should rise slightly above the surrounding soil areas.
  2. Broadcast 1/2 cup GreenAll FST within the perimeter of the hole and  work lightly into the native soil.
  3. Prepare a back-fill soil by mixing 3 parts Master Nursery Acid Planting Mix Natural & Organic with 1 part native soil. Fertilize this soil by mixing in Master Start Fertilizer Or E. B. Stone Organic Sure Start. (See the chart below to know how much to use.)
  4. Remove the plant from its container. Set it in the hole and confirm the crown is 1″ above soil level. Make adjustments as necessary. If the root ball is tightly compacted, loosen the outer roots by gently slicing with a knife 1/2″ deep vertical cuts about every 3″ around the root ball.
  5. Partially fill the hole around the root ball with the back fill mix. Tamp the soil lightly. The root ball should still be 1″ above the surrounding soil. (Never place soil above the root ball, covering the stem.  Azaleas are very particular about this).
  6. Make a water basin around the outside of the hole, large enough to hold a generous amount of water.   Add a nice layer of bark mulch 2-3″ deep around the base of the plant, (within the water basin, but again, not against the stem of the plant).
  7. Water deeply. Flooding the water basin will allow moisture to soak into the root ball.


Watering & Feeding
Make sure to check your plants for water regularly. Where this planting method is great for the plants over time, it is easy for transplants to dry out soon after planting. Keep the root zone moist but not soggy. Maintaining the 3″ layer of bark mulch will help to retain moisture and acidify the root zone.

azaleas-under-oakWe recommend you feed your plants with Master Nursery Camellia Azalea Food or E.B. Stone Azalea, Camellia & Gardenia Food monthly March through September. Supplement this with GreenAll FST in March, May and September. During bud set and blooming season (October through February for most of these plants) feed monthly with Master Nursery Master Bloom for bigger, more prolific blossoms.

Pruning and Care
After blooming, frequent pinching of the branch tips will result in a fuller, bushier plant.