Homeowners will often select a plant because of the exceptional bloom it has. They’ll look forward to it all year. But Mrs. Gotrocks is really bummed this spring. Her azalea has hardly bloomed at all.
Hmmm. Plant looks nice and healthy. Good color in the leaves, and it does get fed each year.
Fact: A plant will not flower without a “flower bud”.
This plant is just fine – it couldn’t be healthier. Problem: Its flowering cycle is being interrupted.
In the spring the azalea should flower following its normal schedule. Soon after flowering it begins to produce the flower buds for next year’s bloom. What’s happening here is the azalea is being pruned too late in the season and the flower buds for next year are being cut off in the process.
Azaleas, like other flowering plants, have a “cycle” they follow through the year. It’s important to know this cycle and when the plant develops flower buds, before you prune.
When You Prune Is As Important As How You Prune
Being aware of the different plants on your property and knowing their cycle is great information to have. You can then note the plants that will need pruning and schedule it at the right time.
These azaleas (see pic above) are well spaced and have room to grow. That’s a plus right from the start. I would not be anxious to prune these plants, but rather let them grow naturally. Their beauty lies in their natural form. Also, they’ll flower beautifully each year with their flower buds intact.
What if the azalea needs to be pruned?
You can preserve the “natural” look of the azalea by selectively pruning the faster growing, dominant branches. Make these individual cuts with a hand pruner just above leaves and/or junction points where branches connect.
Time this pruning soon after the azalea has finished blooming. This way the plant can then go about producing its flower buds for next year without having them cut off later in the season.
The last picture here shows an azalea close-up that was sheared rather than selectively pruned. You can see both leaves and stems cut randomly by the general path of the shear. Not only is this unhealthy for the plant, but it also looks like %$&@.
Isn’t it amazing how different plants can be from one another? We really need to know and understand these differences because in the finished landscape we’re trying to manage what should be the natural cycles of these plants.
I’m always here to help. If you have a question or comment feel free to enter it below.