Some azaleas turn bright red when they’re in the fall and are getting ready to freeze. This is a natural process that helps them to survive, but it can be troubling for gardeners. The leaves on the plant may turn yellow and fall off, which could make it look sickly to some people who don’t know why it happens. However, this color change is perfectly normal. Read on to find out why azalea leaves turning yellow and what you can do to prevent it.

The color change occurs when the leaves are signaling their distress, or that they’re preparing for cold weather. It’s a natural process in order to try to save the plant from freezing. If you have ever seen an azalea blooming all white, this is because it is dying. The white flowers represent the dying process and are a sign that the plant is stressed, such as due to pests or cold temperatures.

If your azalea leaves turning yellow and you haven’t treated it for any pests or diseases, the yellow leaves are a sign of the plant trying to protect itself. It’s not dead, it’s just trying to stay warm. In fact, when you look at the plant in springtime, you’ll usually see that it has fresh new growth and plenty of bright green leaves.

Why does my azalea die after turning yellow?

Don’t get distracted by the beauty of color when you’re watching your plants flower. Here’s why your azaleas might die after they’ve turned yellow:

When a branch of your azalea fails to produce flowers, a small part of the plant turns red or orange instead. The leaves on this branch will be slightly lighter in color. Over the next few weeks, the color will spread to other areas of the leaf, turning it yellow and then brown and crisp.

In some cases, the flower buds never form at all. These branches can also turn red or orange before they start to fade and fall off on their own. This is like a plant disease that you can’t see. It’s not dangerous, but it’s not good to have this happen. It means that your azalea might start to look sickly and you won’t know why it’s dying.

The trouble with this color change is that the leaves turn yellow and then fall off when the plants are ready for freeze-over. Since most of your plants are already finished blooming, you’ll have more problem keeping them alive in the fall than in spring or summer.

How to help my azalea survive after turning yellow?

There are plenty of things that you can do to help your azaleas thrive after colors start to change. These tips are useful even if the plant is in a pot:

Here’s how to save your own azaleas after they start changing colors:

Start watering your plant as you normally would. Continue watering it regularly so that the roots don’t dry out.  You can also try giving the plant a fertilizer with an organic base. This will help the plant to grow and thrive. You can also treat your azaleas with a systemic insecticide to protect them from infestation.

Try adding more nitrogen to your soil when you fertilize in fall, early winter or early spring. When it takes longer for your plants to produce flowers, it’s important that they have all the nutrients they need to thrive and survive.

It helps to pinch off dead or dying leaves when you spot them on your plants. You should also be on the lookout for chewing insects and other potential threats to your azaleas.

Use a fungicide if you notice that your plants are getting infected by viruses or fungi. Fungicides help to keep the foliage healthy, which makes it less likely that leaves will turn yellow from disease or infection.

Refrain from pruning your azaleas at all after they’ve turned yellow until after they’ve frozen over. If the branches aren’t damaged and you’ve pinched the dying leaves, you should be able to get a few more good blooms out of the plants before they go dormant for winter.

Why azalea leaves turning yellow

Tips to Remember:

You can refresh your soil at least once a year by adding in fresh organic materials like compost. This will help to enrich this material and give your plant enough nutrients to thrive.

You can keep your azaleas from turning yellow by planting them in soil that already has plenty of healthy nutrients. When growing azaleas in containers, use low-nitrogen potting mix and keep the liquid feed or fertilizer low.

You can simulate the effects of fertilizers by using a high potassium source like Epsom salt. If you do this, it’s best to dilute it with clean water before adding it to the soil. This will allow your azaleas to use the nutrients naturally in their system instead of having them leached away by too much water. Always follow the directions on the label to treat your plants with potential pesticides.

You should also wait until after the weather gets cold before you fertilize again, especially if you’re using a liquid fertilizer or liquid feed. If it gets too cold for the plant, it will stop using the nutrients and its leaves could turn yellow when they dry out. If your plants are in a pot, you should water them more frequently during these freezing months.


Azalea is a genus of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae, native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere from Europe and Asia east to Japan and south to northern Africa. Dying azaleas can be a cause for concern, especially if you don’t know why the color change has occurred. However, it’s perfectly normal and healthy for them to turn yellow when they’re starting to get ready to freeze. It’s important that you understand why this is happening and what you can do to keep your plants from dying.

The next time when your azalea leaves turning yellow, look at them and realize that there isn’t anything wrong with them. They’re doing their best to survive the cold winter, and it’s up to you to do the same.

Don’t panic if your azaleas start to turn yellow. They can always come back to life in spring, especially if you’re using a systemic insecticide and keeping them hydrated.


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