Will Azaleas Grow In Clay Soils?

Will Azaleas Grow In Clay Soil?

Looking to grow some azaleas for some early season colour but you are not sure if they will survive in your clay soil? Let’s have a look and find out if you can grow azaleas in clay soil.

Will Azaleas Grow In Clay Soil?

Yes, Azaleas will grow in clay soil although it is not ideal for them, there are a few easy steps you can take though to improve your clay soil for azaleas.

Azaleas Growing Wild
Azaleas Growing Wild

To start with you want to dig a big hole to plant your azaleas into, then add some grit to the bottom to improve drainage and then fill with ericaceous compost.

Azaleas like acidic soil which is why we add the ericaceous compost, they also don’t like their roots being in standing water which is why we add some grit.

This is particularly important with clay soils which will hold a lot of water.

It is also advisable to regularly mulch around the plant with ericaceous compost, otherwise, the soil will lose its acidity over time.

How To Improve Clay Soils

Everyone will always tell you to dig in some compost or add some sand or grit or maybe even a combination of these things and act like that will solve all your problems.

The simple answer is it won’t. If you have ever gardened on clay soil then you will know that digging anything into it is incredibly tough.

You cant simply add some compost and turn it over, you can’t easily mix anything into clay.

What does work is adding organic matter on top of clay, and either improving through the use of raised beds or just building the soil level up.

You essentially need to start gardening on a layer above the clay that is rich in organic matter and hummus, all of which you will need to provide.

If your soil isn’t too bad but maybe a little on the heavy side, you can add gravel to the bottom of planting holes to aid drainage, which may be enough for you.

Raised Beds

Raised beds are a brilliant way to improve clay soil, well your not really improving it as you just put better soil on top but it does get rid of the problem.

Raised beds are way too formal for my garden I hear you cry. Raised beds don’t need to be extremely formal although they do work really well in modern gardens.

Wavy, meandering raised beds can be informal and blend into the garden. One great way of building a raised bed like this is by using round fence posts hammered into the ground.

You can even build them into the border by having different layers of raised beds so they get higher at the back.

You could also use stones to build these beds, look how the ones below just disappear into the garden.

Or if you have the space you can even just mound up the soil into a cone and grow flowers around the edges like the example below.