Revitalizing azaleas

ryank817August 27, 2012

We recently bought a new home, and as would be expected, the landscaping left much to be desired. They basically dug holes, dropped the plants halfway in them and took off, and our one azalea plant spent a few months poorly planted in hard clay soil in full sun. There were no blooms and all the leaves were a greenish brown, and then last month I dug it up and planted it in good quality soil for azaleas, a wide area of acidic soil with organic matter. Lots of new green growth appeared around the bottom, but the brownish leaves are hanging on and not improving. Now I hear it should have been pruned already. Would I be better off to just leave it alone till next year, or go ahead and trim it down to get rid of the poor growth?

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Two issues with pruning now:

- if any flower buds have formed then you will cut them off (you should be able to visually inspect for them)

- pruning encourages new growth; new growth may not have time to harden off before we get winter lows; if that happens the new growth will be killed.

For both those reasons, it would be better to prune in the spring. If you have no flower buds (or don't care), you can prune in late February.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 10:26PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

The brown leaves never recover. They eventually fall off. That is normal.

If you don't like them, you can cut them off, one by one.

All of esh's points are very valid.

Don't prune, it won't help and will probably harm.

If you want to prune for other reasons, do it just after they bloom in the spring. That way you don't loose blooms and it still has time to put out new growth.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 10:32AM
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I would not prune till spring, it will be of no benefit to the plant. If there are absolutely dead leaves on the plant, feel free to pick them off they are doing the plant no good and are just drawing attention to themselves.

As far as pruning next year, you should cut of the dead after you are sure it is dead. There is no rush here. To encourage dense growth pinch new growth on terminals. See the link for details.

Here is a link that might be useful: pruning rhodies for dense growth

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 9:25PM
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