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Winterizing, Pruning and Fertilizing Your Azaleas
Ask the Expert:what should i be doing to my azaleas now (NOvember) My azaleas have not been doing as well as I like. When do we fertilize them and what pointers will help me to care for them? My Azaleas are planted outside. They are about 2 1/2 feet high and look healthy but I have not been getting flowers in March as in the past. I live in South Carolina. When is the time when they should be fertilized and when does one do it? Also, when do you trim the bushes? Thank you so much. Frances
Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:
Don't be alarmed at the lack of blooming this past year. Occasionally azaleas will be thrown off by inconsistency in the season - too cold, too wet, too dry too hot. However, if the problem persists for more than one year an issue may exist that needs to be corrected.
To determine what the problem is, we must first evaluate all the factors that contribute to blooming.
First is light exposure. Has the amount of light the azaleas are exposed to throughout the year changed. When azaleas do not get enough light during the growing season blooming can become inhibited. A solution for this is to give the azaleas more light by pruning the trees or shrubs that are shading them. At the same time, too much light at mid-day can cause scorching. However, this won't keep blooms from forming.
Second factor is fertilization. Azaleas can be heavy feeders needing fertilizer monthly during the growing season. I usually recommend fertilizing your azaleas April through August. I like to use a granular slow release fertilizer that contains a systemic insecticide. Your local garden center and nursery should have the fertilizer you need. You might ask them what they recommend in your area as a fertilizer and the time period in which to fertilize them. You do not want to fertilize your azaleas during the dormancy period.
Third factor is pruning. The rule of thumb is to prune your azaleas immediately after they finish blooming or at least within that month. If you prune your azaleas at the wrong time, you might cut the future blooms off. Azaleas set their blooms many months in advance of when they actually bloom. You can prune your azalea severely or lightly depending on how much height and shape you need.
Another factor is proper care during the winter. In the fall, you need to mulch around your azaleas. You can use a multitude of different materials to do this - pine straw, hardwood mulch, pine mulch, cypress mulch, etc. You can discuss the options with your local garden center and nursery. Depending on the winter, your blooms can be damage if the weather becomes extremely cold. When we have had extreme temperatures in our area, I have actually iced my azaleas. Icing involves wetting the azaleas so that ice forms and the plant stays at 32Â° F. Before you attempt this talk to your local garden center. they will be able to determine if this is the right course of action for your area.
Hopefully these suggestion will help remedy your azalea issues.