Overwintering Azalea in Utah


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SLC, Utah, USA.
Hello! My partner has always loved azaleas, so I decided to get one for them! (with their knowledge of course) Attached is a picture of the little guy. I just wanted to know if there were any general tips for overwintering these? In Utah the ground has just barely started to frost in the morning, and I've been placing all my deciduous in a shed overnight. Would also love to see pictures of your guys' azaleas


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Leo in N E Illinois

The Professor
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on the IL-WI border, a mile from ''da Lake''
Azalea are all over the place with regards to winter hardiness. Satsuki azaleas, are usually hardy through zone 7. But some are good through zone 6. You can probably put this little azalea in your shed with your other trees, and it will do fine. When temps are below 40F metabolism of the azalea (and most trees) will be so low that light is not really necessary. The amount of sugars burned by metabolism when colder than 40 F, is low enough that most azalea can go the 3 to 4 months of winter stored in a dark place, with out harm, even though azalea tend to keep their leaves.

IF you tend to keep your house cool, at or below 68 F in winter. AND if you are experienced at windowsill and or under lights growing, you could winter the azalea indoors. I did this for quite a number of years, when I was just getting into the hobby. Grow your azalea outdoors until frosts become a regular occurrence. I used to bring my "florists azalea" indoors when it would drop to +25 F or colder (+25 F = - 4 C ). It then lived on a windowsill, or under lights in my basement with my cool growing orchids. I would then put it back outside in spring. This can work for you.

Florist's azaleas are any of the azaleas that have been bred, or selected for easy bloom induction. (easy to force to bloom). Most of them have some tropical rhododendron in their breeding, which means they will tolerate the warmth of being indoors for winter. Most Satsuki azalea will thrive, and bloom when grown at middle elevations in Hawaii (above 2000 ft.). So most "florist's azalea" and Satsuki azalea can tolerate relatively warm winters.

So it is up to you, winter your azalea in your shed, with your other trees, or winter it indoors with your houseplants. Either can work, depending on your horticultural skill. Personally, for me, it is easier to put my azalea into full dormancy, I leave them out to get a few frosts, then I put them into my unheated well house, it is below ground, and temps hover between 40F and 32 F, in 40 years I have never had it get colder than 32 F, even when it was -25 F outside (-32 C ). The well house has no lights, they stay in the dark until it is safe to go outside in late April or early May.

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