Pruning azaleas and Chinese bells

frank_o(z9 Sunset21 CA)February 5, 2011

Hi, we've let our garden go for a few years, but lately I've been getting interested in working on it.

We have some azaleas and Chinese bells outside our front door that are blooming, but appear leggy and fairly weak. Is this an okay time of year to prune and/or feed them?

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Usually it is better to wait until after bloom, but I don't think you would do any damage if done now. Mine were also out of hand and I cut them back about two months ago. Al

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 8:16AM
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frank_o(z9 Sunset21 CA)

Thanks. I have to be honest and say I haven't watched them that closely to see when they start and stop blooming in our climate. Can I expect to see them stop sometime toward the latter part of spring, even June?

Also, are there times of year when they benefit most from feeding?

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 9:30AM
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I only compost my garden with my own compost made entirely from my own garden waste, usually spring and fall as part of the garden cleanup. Our soil is about 6 and a half PH naturally all my ornamentals are happy with it. Al

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 9:49AM
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I like to remove the full branches that are out of scale after blooming or else cut back generally here and there after the flowers fall. I don't really like the hard clipped shapes myself. If you can visit Nuccio's above Pasadena sometime, they are the masters of all things azalea and camellia. They got me to feed my azaleas cottonseed meal and it has made a great difference in the plants. Mulch works wonders too. Anything acidic like oak leaf or pine straw that holds the moisture in the soil they like. If you use a prepared azalea food, use it half stregnth and be sure to watch for iron deficiency. I saw a grower using a weak solution of fish emulsion on azaleas just before blooms opened. Mine get mostly compost, cottonseed meal and one feeding of commercial azalea food just after flowering.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 2:39AM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

July is getting late to prune most azaleas. They don't need fertilizer unless your soil test shows a deficiency, mulch is fine as above. As you have given no details on the Abutilon, no advice can be given. As always, prune properly and no hedge shears.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 2:45PM
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