trimming azaleas and fertilizers.

miriah(z5MI)July 10, 2006

I am sorry to ask this again. I had the information written down but I cannot find it anywhere. I have two azaleas planted under my weeping white pine tree and I am wondering when is the best time to cut them back and fertilize them. I believe they bloom on old wood so wonder if I can do it now or wait until fall. I have azaleas fertiler so can I throw some around them now. I water every other day since I have a huge garden planted around this pine and it's been so dry. So any help you can give me I would appreciate. I promise this time I will tatoo it to my arm. lol Thank you so much.


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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Hello, miriah. Now is the time to water and maintain the soil moist, not to fertilize. Since Azalea flower buds begin forming in the summer months, be careful when pruning. Do feel free to prune if it is really really needed. But be aware that you may be cutting off next year's flower buds. The best time to prune is a few weeks after the bloomage has ended. If you are past that point, then prune next year (unless you really really have to prune for some reason). Note: it is ok to prune dead stems at any time.

Azaleas need no fertilizer so, unless your soil happens to be defficient on some minerals, do not worry about this. Azaleas are not heavy feeders and obtain all the necessary minerals from the decomposing mulch. Fertilizing in the summer just risks forcing new tender growth that will not be hardened in time for winter. It can also cause bark split in the Fall which is why I am tempted to just let them feed off the mulch until next Spring.

Next year, plan on fertilizing in early Spring and June. Do not use Miracle Grow Products as they contain 30% nitrogen. If fertilizing now because the plants do need it, I would use half the normal application of Holly-tone or cottonseed meal.

Make sure that you have 2-3 inches of mulch thru the drip line or a little further to account for growth this year. Water only in the mornings and when necessary: stick a finger to a depth of 2-3 inches and add water when it feels dry. In the hot summer months, I use this method in order to control myself. Because it feels so hot outside, I think that the azaleas MUST need water but, when I test the soil, it is fine. So I leave the plant alone and check again in a few days.

Have a great day!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 4:38AM
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Thank You Luis, I will just wait until next year to trim. They are a little leggy but I would much rather have the flowers then a perfectly trimmed bush. I have so many different plants that I have a heck of a time remembering who wants what and why. I am going to put this in my bookmark file so I can refer to it again next spring when I get so anxious to start gardening.
Thank you again.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 8:07AM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

I too have a lot of plant types so I know how difficult it is to remember what do I have to do to which and when. Something that works for me most of the time is to write a note on a wall calendar (some people use Journals instead). I have several of those in various rooms but I reserve only one to keep such notes. It is a simple thing and I keep it in the bathroom where I am forced to see it every day.

For example, last month I had a note to ck/fertilize azaleas and camellias & to add Corn Gluten Meal to my lawn; I now have a note reminding to fertilize salvias by month end. I also write down unusual happenings too. Like when live oaks decide to dump their leaves, when butterfly swarms pass by on their way to/from warmer climates, stuff like that.

Try something and see what works for you.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 11:31PM
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