Alive or dead?

I inherited some gumpo (miniature) azealas that were being used as displays in the store I work at. They've already bloomed and I've been procrastinating in getting them in the ground (because we've had really cold temperature drops as re cently as 3 weeks ago here in Atlanta) The plants are all now just woody sticks sticking out of the soil with no leaves at all...I'm not sure if they are still alive (even though I've been keeping them pretty well watered). Can anyone give me a suggestion as to how I tell? Don't really want to go to all that work putting them in the ground if they're dead! Thanks-- Kirsten
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Scratch the bark with your thumb, look for some color other than dark brown or bone white, light green for example.
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Within a few weeks, you're likely to notice some small growth, possibly way down at the base of the plant, possibly along the twigs if they're still alive. Even if the twigs are dry and break easily and don't have much of an apparently viable cambium when scraped, it's possible that the plants may come back from some viable cells, often down low.
Only you can decide if your time is worth it to keep watering. If you want to make the job easier, group the pots on a base of several inches of sand or potting soil-- it'll decrease watering time and frequency in most instances.
Kay
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