Q about no blooms this year

gardenfanatic(MO zone5b)May 21, 2008

Normally, my azaleas bloom in early to mid April. They haven't even formed any flower buds, so I don't think they'll bloom this year, and I don't know why.

I've never pruned them, and I don't think it's weather related, because all my neighbors' azaleas are blooming.

Does anyone know what could have happened? Does fertilizing in the spring cause them to not bloom? It wasn't a strong fertilizer - I use Holly Tone.

Deanna

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

HollyTone is good. I only recommend using at half the rate on the package and only doing it once, just before they bloom.

There are a number of things that keep buds from forming:

Failure to set flower buds may be a sign of too much health and vigor in a plant. One solution my be to prune the roots by cutting around the plant with a spade or moving the plant. This will check foliage growth and encourage production of flower buds. Application of nitrogen rich fertilizers are the main cause of vigor which suppresses flower bud production. Deadheading flowers as soon as they wilt can promote flower bud production. Too much shade, a cool wet summer the year before, or inadequate phosphorus or potassium in the soil may also suppress flower bud production. There are a number of other reasons for a lack of flowers. The effect of each variable depends upon the variety of the plant. The effects include:

* Pruning. The buds are formed in late summer and early fall so pruning then or later is not advisable since it will remove flower buds. New leaf buds will form in the spring, but new flower buds won't form until the next year.

* Fertilizing. Nitrogen promotes leaf and branch growth and discourages flower bud production. It can also force late season growth that gets killed or stunted by frost damage. Phosphorus promotes flower bud production and hardiness. Potassium is necessary for well being.

* Weather. Cold weather can kill flower buds. Usually you see the brown buds in the spring. Cold spells in the fall or spring can damage buds that are not hardened off. Bud blast (blooming in fall or winter) uses up good buds which are then not available at the normal blooming time.

* Sun & Shade. Some rhododendrons need full sun to bloom and others can take fairly dense shade. In general, the more sun the more flower buds but also the greater exposure to damage from desiccation in summer or winter. More shade produces tall spindly foliage and less flowers.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to grow rhododendrons and azaleas.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 2:18PM
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