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Overwintering Rhododendron and Azalea Growing in Containers

I have a rhododendron (Zone 5) and azalea plant in pots on my 2nd floor balcony. What special things should I do for them for the upcoming winter?

The easiest and best thing for the plants is to sink the containers in the ground for winter. If you or a gardening friend have a vacant space you can sink the containers in the ground to provide insulation for the roots over winter. Once the ground freezes you can cover the plant with evergreen boughs or straw for additional protection. If this isn’t an option move the plants to an unheated garage. Place the pots on a board and surround with insulating materials (packing peanuts, things stored in the garage, etc.). Check plants throughout the winter and water thoroughly whenever the soil is thawed and dry. You may be able to successfully overwinter the plants on the balcony. Move plants to the most sheltered area near the building. Group the pots together and surround with bales of straw or other insulating materials. Water these plants whenever the soil is thawed and dried. Your last resort is moving the plants indoors. Look for the coolest bright location in your apartment. The warm air, low light and low humidity indoors makes it difficult for the plants to thrive. Water as needed and don’t fertilize until the plants show signs of growth and nutrient deficiencies.


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