Azaleas to be at their peak during Masters

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Visitors will see plenty of colorful azaleas this year because, experts say, it has been a good season for the Augusta mainstay.

"I think we're looking all right," said Charles Phillips, Columbia County's extension agent.

Sid Mullis, of the Richmond County Extension Office, said the azaleas in Augusta actually started blooming a little late this year.

"That's good because we're probably going to have one of our prettiest Masters ... not only out there but around town," Mr. Mullis said. "A lot of times they're past peak."

Mr. Mullis said a cooler than normal winter "slowed them up," and about normal temperatures lately have helped keep them from blooming too early. Mr. Mullis and Mr. Phillips say rainfall also has been pretty good.

And although temperatures the first part of Masters Week could dip into the 30s at night, Bill Adams, a master gardener with the Richmond County extension service, said he doesn't think it will harm the azaleas that have bloomed.

Jennie Addie, of Green Thumb West Nursery and Garden on Davis Road in Martinez, said the area's azaleas will be "right on the money" for Masters Week. She said the flowering plant has been in high demand during the past week, but she should still have plenty for sale this weekend.

"A lot of times, too, people are getting their yards ready for Masters and a couple of azaleas didn't make it through the drought, so they're plugging in azaleas," she said.

For those waiting to plant, she said you're not too late.

"It's still a good time to plant the azaleas," she said.

Ms. Addie said the key to planting azaleas is to do so in an area with shade and to not plant them too deep, meaning you should only plant them as low as they sit in their original container.

"That's essential with azaleas," she said.

She said that for the first year, you should also make sure your azalea gets plenty of water -- about three times a week through the summer.

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com

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