Garden update: Time to prune Azalea

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By David Silver on May 14, 2012, 7:46pm

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If the flowers have completely faded on your Azaleas, then it is time to prune. There are many varieties of Azalea and the bloom time can vary from mid-April to mid to late May. It is good to have a variety of Azaleas that are early, mid and late blooming so you can extend the flowering season in your garden. So enjoy the flowers and then, prune.

Azaleas are very easy to prune. You can cut anywhere on the shrub, including stems which may look bare. The stems without leaves or flowers will bud back. Azaleas can be cut with hedging shears or any other type of pruner. You can cut hard, or light. It doesn't matter. Cut hard if you want dense Azaleas, with tight flowers the next season. I don't shape Azaleas into balls. I personally don't like that look. This photo shows a result from a tight, but uneven pruning the previous season and I think it gives a nice result.

Azaleas do best in part-sun to shade. The proper soil pH for Azaleas is 45-6.0 (acidic). And it it very important to plant Azaleas at the proper depth. The top of the rootball on the Azalea should be above the soil line. The stems of the Azalea will then be above the soil and the rest of the soil will be sloping away. If Azaleas are doing poorly, then most often it is because they have been planted too deeply or the soil pH is too high (above 6.0). It doesn't hurt to mix in a shovelful of peat moss when planting Azaleas. Mix the peat moss thoroughly into the soil. A soil test will also reveal if the conditions are good for planting Azaleas.

Soil test kits are available through your local Agricultural Extension Service through the University of Connecticut. Follow the directions on the soil test kit and when submitting the sample, indicate that the planting is for Azaleas and you will receive the proper recommendations.

Even when not blooming, Azaleas can add structure to the gardens and woodland plantings. So pick up some Azaleas at your local garden center and enjoy the blooms from season to season and the lovely look of the shrubs when not in bloom.

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David Silver

Town: Morris, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since February 2012.

Articles: 24

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