Azaleas and Rhododendrons are wonderful foundation plantings in the landscape offering evergreen color all year long but, when they bloom, they really shine! So what are the steps we need to follow to have the best looking shrubs in the neighborhood?

First, its important to understand their life cycle. Azaleas and Rhododendrons will set their buds for next year by the end of August. To avoid cutting off next year’s blooms, you want to trim the plant soon after the current blooms fade.

Before shaping the plant, always check for dead or unhealthy branches which can expose it to infection and bugs. Always remove these first, and be sure to clean your pruners before moving on.

After you remove the dead branches, prune away overgrown branches to achieve the overall shape that you want.

Azaleas respond very well to hard pruning as long as it’s done before it sets its buds for next year.

Rhododendron on the other hand, prefers a light pruning rather than a heavy trimming. Remove dead blooms from your rhododendron plant and prune it lightly. If your rhododendron is overgrown, you can remove half the stems from the next older layer of the plant but save the second half for the following year. For older Rhododendrons it may take a few years to get the shape that you want.

It’s a good idea to fertilize the plants after pruning to promote new growth and increase the blooms for next year. Holly Tone is the perfect fertilizer for this purpose.

If you have recently planted your Azaleas and Rhodies it will be much easier to just keep up with the maintenance but don’t lose hope on older plants. With some attention you will have them looking amazing within a few years! Contact Willow Ridge Garden Center & Landscaping today for help.