Prune to tidy up "Girard's Rose" azalea after it finishes blooming.

How to Grow Evergreen Girard's Rose Azaleas

by Bridget Kelly

“Girard’s Rose” azalea (Rhododendron x “Girard’s Rose”) was bred by Girard Nurseries of Geneva, Ohio. The plant was introduced in 2009 as part of the Girard Hybrids series of azaleas. “Girard’s Rose” produces deep pink, wavy flowers on a cold-hardy shrub. It grows from 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall, with an equal spread, and grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 9.

1. Site

“Girard’s Rose” azalea does best in sites with dappled shade or that provide morning sun and afternoon shade. Because the azalea can’t tolerate excessive moisture at its roots, make sure the soil drains well. Azaleas also require acidic soil, so aim for a pH between 4.5 and 5.5, advises American Rhododendron Society. Finally, “Girard’s Rose” azalea has a shallow root system, so grow it in an area where you can avoid cultivating around it. Azaleas are highly toxic to children and pets, so choose your planting site wisely.

2. Watering

All azaleas thrive in moist soil, and “Girard’s Rose” is no exception. A good rule of thumb is to give the plant 1 inch of water a week, which can come from rainfall or supplemental watering. To determine how long to run the sprinkler system to provide 1 inch of water, place two or three empty tuna or cat food cans in random spots at the azalea’s drip line. Run the sprinkler system, timing how long it takes to fill the can with 1 inch of water. This is the length of time to run the sprinklers once a week.

3. Fertilizer

Azaleas don’t require fertilizer, provided you apply a layer of organic mulch, such as pine needles, on the soil around the shrub, advises The United States National Arboretum. As the mulch breaks down, it supplies nutrients to the soil. Too much nitrogen may impede the “Girard’s Rose” azalea's ability to bloom. Large populations of insects, such as lace bugs and whiteflies, are attracted to a plant that receives excess nutrients. Apply fertilizer only if a soil test shows the soil is deficient. Fertilize the azalea in spring or fall by lightly scattering a granular fertilizer labeled for use on acid-loving plants. The United States National Arboretum warns not to use more than 2 to 3 tablespoons per application. Check the directions on the packaging for exact rates.

4. Pruning

“Girard’s Rose” azalea doesn’t require heaving pruning but you may want to tidy it up after the blooming period in spring. Heavier pruning should be done in early spring before the azalea produces new growth. Use sharp pruners and start by removing two to three of the tallest branches, cutting them back to a branch that is growing in the desired direction. Make the cuts as close to the branch as possible. Continue pruning by cutting back smaller, twiggy branches. When pruning for height or to shape the plant, prune it in stages, over two or three seasons, to avoid shocking the plant.

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