Spring Azalea Care
As Spring begins, we are anticipating the showy blooms of our beloved azaleas. There is no greater spectacle in the Southern Garden than a mass planting of azaleas beneath our flowering dogwoods. But, what about when they finish blooming? We want to keep them healthy, right? Here are a few simple tips on Spring Azalea Care in East Tennessee.
Since azaleas are heavy bloomers, they need fertilizing regularly. Feed them with a slow release balanced fertilizer formulated for acid loving plants. Apply in spring when they begin to bloom. Spread evenly on ground out to the drip line of the plant. Do not cultivate deeply because Azaleas have shallow root systems. Water well.
Pruning should be done in spring after the azalea finishes its bloom cycle. Never shear an azalea into a “ball form”, rather select individual stems and cut each off with hand pruners. Removing a few short stems will control the size and shape of the shrub for a growing season. Prune farther back if need to rejuvenate a lot of growth on old leggy plants.
Azaleas sometimes become prey to lace bugs, a sucking insect that attaches to the underside of the leaves. The foliage becomes grayish/yellow and will eventually drop off. To control them, try to catch them early (around the 1st of July), before the problem becomes severe. Spray with Systemic Insect Control, making sure to get the product on both the tops and undersides of the leaves. A second application is usually necessary in 2-3 weeks to break the life cycle of the insects.
In East Tennessee we love our azaleas! Want to keep them looking as good as the day you bought them? Follow our 3 easy care steps:
- Fertilize in the spring
- Prune lightly after bloom
- Watch for signs of lace bugs.
One more tip:
Azaleas are shallow rooted plants so they benefit from a layer of mulch and weekly watering during periods of drought.
If you’re interested in some more good tips on plant maintenance, check out this blog on Pruning Hydrangeas.