what causes difference in azalea bloom?

jaimeg(z6KY)May 1, 2006

I am experiencing my first spring in with a foundation bed in our new house and have a question about 5 azalea bushes I have inherited.

They are in full sun most of the day and are planted in awful clay soil. In the very early spring, I moved 2 shrubs and left 3 where they have been for probably 5 years.

The two I moved bloomed beautifully. 1 of the 3 I left bloomed ok, the other 2 had no flowers.

My question is this...is the bloom difference from their treatment this year or was were the buds set last year and it had nothing to do with the transplantation, but something with their conditions last year? The only thing I can think of is that the transplanted shrubs may have gotten a little more shade than the others before I moved them. The one of the 3 that remained in their old spot MAY have gotten a little filtered shade from a nearby tree, but it would be a minimal difference from the other 2 that didn't bloom. They area planted in a row. I mixed in a better top soil and peat moss with the transplanted shrubs. The others are, obviously, in the same dry clay soil.

They all looked the same when I moved them, I thougth they all had a ton of flower buds, but I guess I may have mistaken the flower buds on the ones that didn't bloom. Could those have been just leaves I was seeing? I gave them all Miracle Grow Azalea food when I moved them (which I know now was a mistake, but they all look ok). The transplanted ones have fewer leaves, but a ton of flowers. They were actually looking pretty rough before the bloom. Now they are filling in with leaves. The others have a ton of nice leaves, but no flowers.

Thanks for any input. I have never had azaleas before and I'm hoping to do anything I can for a good bloom next year. I would love it if all 5 shrubs could bloom at the same time! Also, if I wanted to shape the shrubs a little, should I do that now, just as the flowers are dying off?

Thanks!

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

The flower buds were formed last year, so your transplanting had nothing to do with the number of flower buds. In mid winter the flower buds and leaf buds look similar. Then in spring the flower bud swell up and open. The leaf buds normally just open without much swelling. Looking closely you can see how many flower buds they had after the leaf buds open. The flower buds will be either spent flowers or unopened flower buds.

There are several reasons flower buds don't open: drought, frost, fungal damage, and premature partial opening in the fall or mid winter.

The reasons for poor bud set are also multiple: poor health of the plant, lack of light, too much fertilizer, and poor drainage.

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

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 8:36AM
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jaimeg(z6KY)

Thanks, that's what I was thinking...that the buds were set from last year's conditions. So apparently, I moved the ones that were happy and left the ones that aren't so happy! Ugh! Oh well, they couldn't have stayed where they were, so I really had no choice. I guess I'll just have to try to figure out how to make them happy in their current spot. Thanks for the link, I am going to read up and see what I can do for them now. I have trouble figuring out how to do the best for the plant after it is already in it's spot and mature. New plantings I get, but I'm new to caring for mature plants that aren't thriving, I mean short of moving them altogether and replacing them (that is not really in the budget!)

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 9:19AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Many people move azaleas until they find a spot where they do well. As you probably found out, though it is not easy, it isn't too bad of a job to move an azalea. When moving it permits you to prepare the soil properly in the new location or even if you just put it back in the same location.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 8:46PM
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