Few vegetation can rival the spectacular floral shows which are seen in azaleas (Rhododendron). The profusion of flowers, the vivid colours which are obtainable, and their adaptability to totally different soil and climates makes them one of the widespread shrubs that we develop. It could not be springtime with out azaleas, and that is very true within the Southeast.
Most well-established neighborhoods with their giant bushes are the perfect cowl for these pretty vegetation, giving them the dappled shade they want and the leaf litter and pine needles that azaleas admire. They’ve been bred for a whole bunch of years and there are greater than 10,000 totally different cultivars of those pretty vegetation. Though most individuals affiliate azaleas with spring, some bloom in summer season and fall. By fastidiously deciding on vegetation, you possibly can have azaleas blooming at the very least eight months of the yr.
To maintain these vegetation wanting fairly and blooming their heads off, one must do some normal upkeep after they bloom, and timing is crucial in order for you your azaleas to bloom subsequent yr. The very best time to prune is inside three to 4 weeks after they end blooming within the spring. Azaleas, like different vegetation, want time to make the flower buds for the following yr. For those who wait too late to prune, you’ll be chopping off the flower buds for the next spring and as an alternative of getting a stunning flowering plant, you’ll have a inexperienced bush with few flowers, if any in any respect.
There are two courses of azaleas, our native azaleas and the Asian azaleas. Native azaleas are indigenous to many components of the U.S. and they’re rising in reputation. They’re typically referred to as wild or honeysuckle azaleas and plenty of have a stunning perfume. These azaleas sometimes don’t must be pruned as a result of they’ve a extra open form. Nevertheless, should you do wish to prune them, it is vitally vital to prune on the proper time in order that you don’t miss out on flowers the next yr.
However, the Asian azaleas are the evergreen ones with most of them coming from Japan. Azaleas bloom on previous wooden. They produce flower buds on final yr’s progress and for that reason, it is vitally vital to prune instantly after they end blooming. For those who prune in summer season or fall, you’ll be eradicating the flower buds. The brand new reblooming azaleas like Encore and Bloom-A-Thon bloom on each final yr’s progress and the present yr’s progress. Additionally they must be pruned within the spring, like the opposite evergreen azaleas.
When making ready to prune, you want a pair of hand clippers and a pair of loppers. Hand clippers work effectively on the smaller branches and use the loppers on branches one-half to 1 half inches thick. The lengthy handles of the loppers provide the leverage for chopping bigger limbs and means that you can get contained in the bush to prune.
I might not use hedge trimmers or shears on azaleas until you desire a formal look or a formed hedge. For those who do that yr after yr, you’ll nonetheless must go deep inside infrequently and prune. For those who solely use hedge trimmers, over time, you’ll have solely progress on the very prime of the bush and the vegetation might turn out to be leggy.
In most landscapes, azaleas look greatest when they’re pruned a bit of every year to let gentle and air get into the bush but preserve the swish form of the bush. That is accomplished by going contained in the bush and pruning. I’ve a rule that I by no means prune greater than one-fourth to one-third of a bush in any given yr. You may come again subsequent yr and prune once more so the bush retains a stunning form.
Nevertheless, if main pruning is required, and also you wish to take out greater than one-third of the bush, it’s best to do that within the late winter. That is solely wanted when a bush has turn out to be overgrown and also you wish to make it smaller in dimension. You may reduce a bush right down to about 18 inches in top however this dramatic pruning have to be accomplished in winter when the sap is down. In fact, you’ll be dropping blooms that spring however this fashion, you’ll save the bush and it’ll come again and you may work to maintain it below management. I discover that bigger azaleas, just like the Southern Indica azaleas, are those that want this pruning if left unpruned yr after yr.
Persons are usually scared to prune and I can perceive this worry. I take advantage of to be the identical manner. What I discover is an effective answer is to prune some after which return just a few days later and see what you assume. You may at all times reduce extra if the shrub continues to be too giant. Simply keep in mind to not reduce greater than 1 / 4 to a 3rd of a bush when doing spring pruning.
Lately, I pruned one mattress and it seemed skinny in some locations. Taking a look at that mattress a number of days later, branches have been beginning to fill in the place I had reduce and it seemed significantly better. Branches that have been squashed had moved over to fill the holes. It makes me assume that I must go prune some extra. Vegetation are forgiving too and they’re going to put out new progress and conceal your errors.
Betty Montgomery is a grasp gardener and creator of “Hydrangeas: How To Develop, Domesticate & Take pleasure in,” and “A 4-Season Southern Backyard.” She could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.