When to Plant Azaleas in North Carolina?

Written by

William Golder


Dorian Goodwin

when to plant azaleas in north carolina

Spring and fall, around March to April or September, are the best seasons to plant Azaleas in NC. However, keep in mind that North Carolina is divided into zones 5, 6, 7, and 8, so their ideal planting time can vary slightly.

The post below answers the question of when to plant azaleas in North Carolina according to the growing zone and the best conditions for planting azaleas.


Zone Suggest Planting time Approximate months
Zone 5 Early spring or early fall March or September
Zone 6 Early spring or early fall March or September
Zone 7 Early spring or early fall March or September
Zone 8 Late winter to early spring or early fall February to March or September

The Best Time to Plant Azaleas in North Carolina

1. Fall Planting

growing-azaleas-in-fall-plantingAs azaleas take 2 to 3 weeks for the seeds to germinate, you should plant them in the early fall – around September so that they can establish roots before the first frost. Otherwise, once the cold hits, azaleas won’t be able to form roots, or they may not have enough time to harden off, resulting in plant death in winter.

Therefore, as soon as the ambient temperature is about 33°F to 65°F, start sowing azaleas seeds. A good indication that you can start planting these flower buds is when nurseries start selling their seeds.

2. Spring Planting


One advantage of spring planting in March and April is that the flowers have more time to establish roots and harden off. Plus, since the temperatures are mild within these months, the plants can quickly develop and form flower buds within the summer.

To successfully pull off spring planting, make sure the ground has thawed completely. But how do we know that?

There are a couple of indicators:

  • The first is to keep an eye on the weather. The ground can thaw only when there are a few warm days consistently.
  • Walk across the soil or pat it. If soil is frozen, it will feel rigid. Warm soil will give way when pressure is applied.
  • Alternatively, wait at least 7 days after the last frost date.

Whether you plant in fall or spring, frost matters a lot, so check out the list below for most major cities in North Carolina. It’ll help you plan your schedule according to regions, be it in eastern NC or western NC.

Cities Zone First frost date Last frost date
Charlotte Zone 7 Oct 29 to Nov 15 March 22 to April 13
Raleigh Zone 7 Oct 29 to Nov 15 March 22 to April 13
  Zone 8 Nov 7 to Nov 28 Mar 13 to Mar 28
Asheville Zone 7 Oct 29 to Nov 15 March 22 to April 13
Wilmington Zone 8 Nov 7 to Nov 28 Mar 13 to Mar 28
Greensboro Zone 7 Oct 29 to Nov 15 March 22 to April 13
Durham Zone 7 Oct 29 to Nov 15 March 22 to April 13
Winston-Salem Zone 7 Oct 29 to Nov 15 March 22 to April 13

Tips for Successful Azalea Planting in North Carolina


In addition to timing the planting right, consider the tips below for successfully growing azaleas.

  • Plant azaleas in hummus-rich soil with a pH of 5 to 6, where they can receive 4 hours of sun.
  • Not every azalea species is suitable for every hardiness zone. When buying seeds for North Carolina, check the description to ensure they suit yours. For example, Piedmont are native azaleas in zones 6 to 9, making them ideal for NC.
  • When planting multiple azaleas, space them at least 2 feet apart to aid their growth.
  • Depending on the weather, the blooming season can last for months. It’s best to prune the plant a couple of weeks after the blooming cycle. If you prune any sooner, you risk eliminating next year’s buds.
  • Azaleas need moisture for better insulation from cold weather. Therefore, before the first frost of the season (dates covered in the table above), it’s best to water azaleas.


Stop second-guessing when to plant azaleas in North Carolina. Just go by the guide above, and you will know the best dates to plant azaleas as per the seasons and weather. Time the planting right, and you won’t have to worry about the plant’s growth.

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