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Why are the leaves on my azalea turning brown and dying?

When fresh azalea leaves turn brown, something is wrong. If your azalea bush is brown, brittle and shriveled, it's probably dead. Improper care is the most common cause of a dead azalea. Brown leaves can be the result of pests or diseases such as petal blight. Cultural care can also be to blame for browning azaleas leave.

Azaleas leave Turning Brown

Azaleas are generally healthy plants if you meet their growth requirements. Too much or too little water, the wrong exposure, or soil may result in browning flowers. azaleas like dappled sun, acidic soil with excellent drainage. It is a good idea to test soil moisture, and maybe even test soil drainage in the planting area.
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Testing Soil Moisture

To measure soil moisture, dig 4 to 6 inches in the soil next to the root or rootball and check the soil moisture. It is better to spray the soil less often than to spill a little water around the plants every day. After planting new azaleas, review the soil moisture regularly, and change the watering schedule.

Testing Soil Drainage

In well-drained soil, the water level can sink at a rate of around 1 inch per hour. A slower pace suggests inadequate drainage of soil resulting in continuously damp or muddy conditions. A faster pace, such as in loose, sandy soil, can imply potentially dry soil conditions. Test the soil by digging a 12 "high, 12" deep hole in the dirt.

Testing Soil pH

Soil pH is an indicator of soil alkalinity or acidity. The pH is measured on a scale of 1-14, with a favorable rating of 7. The value below 7 demonstrates acid soil conditions, and everything above 7 suggests alkaline. You should apply pelletized limestone to the soil to increase the pH (make it alkaline). You should add Soil Sulfur, Aluminum Sulfate, or Chelated Iron to reduce the pH.

Azaleas grow best in an acid to slightly acid soil ranging from 5.0 to 6.5 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils range between 6.0 and 7.0 on the scale. If most of the leaves at the tips of stems are affected you can give the plant an all-over trimming.

Improving Soil Drainage

Azaleas perform their best over the long term in a consistently moist but well-drained soil. If the soil in the area where you planted your azaleas is poorly drained, you'll have to remedy the poor drainage conditions.

improve soil drainage by lifting the plants and adding more native topsoil to improve drainage. Planting in a raised mound helps to keeps the roots of the plant above the water table. If neither of these remedies is possible, it's best to relocate the azaleas to an area with well-drained soil and replace them with plants that are tolerant of wet soil conditions. For best results, the mound should be 24 to 36 inches wide and 12 inches high at the center.

Azaleas with Petal Blight

Azaleas usually get petal blight when the weather is cool and wet. The lesions grow quickly, become slimy, and turn brown, yet remain on the bush for a long time. This pathogen overwinters as sclerotia in diseased flowers. Mulch the bed well in autumn to prevent the germination of scleratia. If you opt to use a fungicide, do so one month before the plant blooms.

Other Reasons Azalea Leaves Turn Brown

Azalea leave can turn brown for several other reasons, including root and crown rot. Lace bugs are a common pest of these plants and usually leave the foliage speckled gray or white. Rhododendron bud and twig blight is another possibility. The flower buds typically turn brown and won't open in the spring, later becoming covered in black fruiting structures. Leafhoppers are often to blame for this fungus.

Getting help

Call a local county agent, master gardener or university person to ask how it died and to get advice to stop the loss of future azalea trees.