Azaleas are a beautiful plant for Jacksonville and other northern and northcentral Florida locations. This flowering shrub offers lots of stunning flowers with evergreen leaves, so you don’t go through a “weedy” period. They can bloom as early as the holidays and stay flowery for three to four months.
But not all azaleas are happy in Florida. According to the University of Florida’s Gardening Solutions, you’ll need a hybrid azalea to survive northern Florida’s environmental challenges. Fortunately, that’s what’s commonly sold at local nurseries (which means don’t bring one back with you from your trip to Vermont to visit relatives).
Like most Floridians, azaleas find northern Florida areas like Jacksonville as well as areas a little more south like Orlando to suit them best. These plants like “filtered sunlight” that won’t burn them up. That means planting them near trees that can provide some sun protection.
Some experts claim that if you plant azaleas in direct sun, you’re setting them up for lacebug attacks. Lacebugs eat azalea leaves from bottom of the leaf. You’ll see the top of the leaf with brown speckles, turn it over, and notice the creepy looking lacebugs. Spraying keeps these bugs at bay. The University of Florida also names white flies, leafminers, spider mites, and scale and stem borers as the most common Florida azalea insect enemies.
Azaleas like well-drained soils and to live with friends, which means planting several of azaleas together in your flower bed. Use mulch, and if you’re going to transplant some or the plants, choose the cooler months of the year to do so.
For a flowering plant that gives you stunning blooms in northern Florida, the azalea is a great choice. All it needs is filtered light, well-drained soil, and a little help fighting off Florida bugs.