Pruneing azaleas

jean502July 1, 2008

We are going into our second year of drought. Our azaleas are well established after 15+years. They are mulched with black cloth top with pine bark. They are starting to look really bad and a couple look like they may die. I'm wondering if I should prune them back further during the drought. We have been keeping them to about 4 foot high. When we bought the house 15 years ago the were as tall as the house.

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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

I know pruning sounds like a logical step, but unfortunately it will stimulate the plants to put out new growth which would be disastrous. So, the answer is no, do not prune. In drought years, azaleas tend to die one branch at a time. I guess this is natures way of trying to survive. In any case, if you can get water to the plants, that would be best. I have about 20 1-gallon milk jugs. I cut two very small holes in the top on opposite sides. I fill the jugs with water and then lay them sideways near each plant so that the water drips out of one hole slowly. The other hole is an air hole. This uses the minimum amount of water and gets directly to the root zone of the plant. I only do this in severe droughts. I normally never water. Then the next day I do 20 different plants, etc. I repeat this approximately every 10 days. I can water 200 plants this way. Even though we have only had 1 inch of rain in June, I have several 5-gallon buckets that I put out in April and they are now full of rain water. I set them near the rhody garden, and will use them to water plants until that water runs out. Then, I have a pond, so I can use pond water.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 8:13AM
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