flowering bushes care

ladyofengland(8A)April 13, 2008

I'm a newbie to gardening and love this site. I can see I shall be a regular here. We moved here two years ago in May. Garden was landscaped with gorgeous flowering bushes. First year they bloomed beautifully. Last year I did not know why everyone were putting sheets over their bushes this time of year. Silly me ! They hardly bloomed at all last year. This is a pic of them today. What can I or rather should I do to them. One seems as if the stems are half dead, or maybe they will liven up. Should I cut them out? Do I need to feed them. What kind of bushes are they?

Thanks for any advice?[IMG]http://i27.photobucket.com/albums/c153/ladyofengland/MVC-008F-16.jpg[/IMG]


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amazindirt(7A mid-TN)

Those are azaleas. Most likely they were damaged by the hard freeze and subsequent drought last year. Azalea form buds for next year's bloom right after the current year's blossoms fade, so all those stressors last year killed off many of the buds for this spring.

Cut out the dead parts only. Then give them some azalea or other "acid-loving" fertilizer (different than "regular" fertilizer, because azaleas love acid conditions) and don't let them dry out too much this coming year, and they ought to start recovering.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 1:51AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

If you do fertilize, go light! Most of the experts are saying not to fertilize until the plants are no longer stressed (which it appears that your's still are).

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 8:45AM
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Thank you so much Brandon and amazindirt. I appreciate your help so much.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 12:24PM
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amazindirt(7A mid-TN)

It was *last* year that she shouldn't have fertilized -- and she didn't. *This* year she ought to be getting those plants back in the swing of things. IMHO.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 1:50PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I'm not saying you're wrong, but I have heard more than one "expert" say that if the tree/shrub still shows signs of stress (which this one appear to), it should not be fertilized. I would at least go light on the fertilizer. If the shrub is still stressed, what makes this year different than last year?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 4:41PM
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amazindirt(7A mid-TN)

Where do you see stress, Brandon? You've got to distinguish between signs of CURRENT stress and the scars of OLD stress.

You see lack of blooming, from where the buds were killed LAST YEAR. You see dead branches, which were killed LAST YEAR. Those dead branches are going to stay dead, no matter how long you withhold fertilizer.

The cause of stress has passed. The conditions so far this year are good. Now those plants need to be encouraged to regrow what they've lost.

Incidentally and mostly unrelated -- I've got a bunch of azaleas that have been in one gallon pots for **two years** now. They are blooming their butts off. I'm very impressed with them! I do plan on putting them in bigger pots some time this spring -- then they get to go live in Lebanon!

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 5:30PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

"One seems as if the stems are half dead"

Unstressed shrubs would not have stems that appear half dead. On a healthy shrub, the previously damaged areas would be sealed off and the dead area would be obviously differentiated from the normal, healthy tissue.

Like probably most people on here, I have very little experience with how fast shrubs recover from stress after periods like last year. I am only relaying the information that I have heard from a number of people in the horticultural field who I hear advising against fertilizing trees and shrubs even now. Many arborists are predicting losses through at least next year that will mainly be due to the stress received from last year. With last year's freeze and the prolonged drought spanning most of last year, it would be a surprise if the shrubs weren't stressed. If you disagree with this, that's up to you, but the advise I've heard from nursery owners and educators makes sense to me.

Fertilizer is usually recommended for trees or shrubs if 1.) a soil test indicates a nutrient deficiency or 2.) the tree or shrub is healthy and growth rates in excess of normal growth rates are desired for some reason. I don't see either of these being the case in this situation. If I wanted to give these shrubs a boost, I'd add some compost and forget about the fertilizer.

P.S. ..... The Azalea Society of America states:
In general, azaleas in the landscape require little or no fertilizer. Having humus (decomposed organic matter) in the soil and maintaining an organic mulch around azaleas are more important than applying chemical fertilizers, and much safer. Decomposition of the mulch normally provides the nutrients needed for the good health of the azaleas. Applying chemical fertilizers without knowledge of any deficiencies in your soil may not help much, and may actually harm your azaleas. As a very general rule, more azaleas are killed by kindness than by neglect.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 6:59PM
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