transplanting old azaleas

gw409(6)September 16, 2012


new york south region

a few years ago i moved a bunch of small azaleas to a different area of the house. i clustered them in hopes of creating a tight geometric shape. i think the area i chose for transplant gets way too much hot afternoon sun. i want to move them again to a more shaded location. is it advisable to cut them back significantly prior to transplant? these were my fathers and are about 15 years old so i would like to save them for sentimental reasons.

any advice on this would be appreciated.

thank you

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did a little reading on the forum, looks like i have two isseus to contend with. one a drastic pruin and two a transplant. i am confused on how this should be timed?

also how much sun or shade is too much for azaleas?


    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 9:14PM
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The ideal exposure is probably morning sun and afternoon shade, although there are some azalea varieties that will do well in full sun except in very hot climates.

Any pruning done now will eliminate next year's bloom. Azaleas and rhododendrons are very easy to move because of their shallow, vibrous root system, but, all in all, you'd probably be better off waiting until after next year's bloom to move them. At that point you can prune to shape the plants to the form you want, but it is not a requirement for transplanting them.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 4:54AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It is never recommended that the top be pruned to compensate for root loss during transplanting. Woody plants need all of those leaves in order to manufacture a brand new root system.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 10:27PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Also, now is not the time to prune in the Northern Hemisphere. Pruning stimulates new growth and delays hardening off and dormancy. This causes serious problems. It is OK to move now, in fact probably the best time to move if you mulch properly so you don't get frost heave.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:07AM
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so assuming i don't care about bloom next season, could i transplant now, mulch well and prune back next spring before the season starts?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 7:29PM
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Yes, as rhodyman wrote, this is a good time to transplant as long as you mulch well and make sure they have enough water right through November.

rhizo 1's comments about pruning and root loss are accurate for many plants, but don't really apply to rhododendrons and azaleas. With care, it's not at all difficult to move close to 100% of the existing roots - they're in a shallow compact mass. Pruning now will stimulate late soft growth, as rhodyman noted. That's reason enough to wait for spring.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:18AM
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