"Do you think we have a prayer?"
"Doubtful," I responded, as I greeted another gardener. She had Pink Azaleas in her shopping cart, too.
Who can resist these bright fuschia blooms? And, I suppose that's what Home Depot had in mind. Because Azaleas don't grow here. Well, that's not actually true. They grow here; they just don't flower. What good is this bush without these gorgeous flowers?
Azaleas need acidic soil in order to bloom.* Western soils just don't give 'em what they need. It is possible to fool them, though. Dig a large hole - at least three feet deeper and three feet wider than your plant. Splurge on special garden soils formulated for acid-loving perennials. Once this little beauty is convinced she's living in Missouri (instead of Utah,) I will try to make the soil more acidic by regularly adding composted leaves, wood chips, coffee grounds, pine needles and peat moss.
Grow an impossible garden. Take a risk now and then. :)
*The acidity or alkalinity of the soil is measured by pH (potential Hydrogen ions.) Generally, soils in moist climates tend to be acid and those in dry climates are alkaline. Azaleas cannot tolerate the amount of lime in our Western soil.