Q: Why didn’t my azaleas bloom well this year? Everyone else’s seemed to do fine.
Doesn’t matter if you are in the South and enjoy huge Indica and more compact Kurume azaleas, or up North where P.J.M. and other cold-hardy species can tolerate cold winters, azaleas are the queens of spring color.
But there are several reasons why they and other spring blooming shrubs may not do well one year or another. So you aren’t alone—a lot of gardeners share this frustration, and seem to only see everyone else’s doing great.
It’s natural to notice those that are doing well, while the struggling ones just fade into the background of spring’s unfurling glories.
The most common reasons they fail totally, is that the shrubs were pruned too late the previous summer and didn’t have time for new growth to mature and form flower buds before fall, or they were pruned to neaten them up in the fall or winter and all the flowering stems were removed. It is important to get all pruning done by early summer, and leave them alone after that.
Also, if your garden has heavy or clay soil, the plants may have been struggling with a shallow root system through last summer’s intense heat and drought, and put all their energy into survival instead of flower buds. A good soaking every three or four weeks is usually plenty, though every two or three weeks would be better.
And a sudden hard freeze, or a prolonged deep freeze, can kill the buds on some plants, while those in another garden seem to fare pretty well. Again, it depends on the health and vigor of individual plants.
Don’t give up just yet. Spread a little fertilizer under them this spring, water them deeply every few weeks in the summer, and get any pruning done by mid-June, and let’s see how they do next spring!
Gardening expert and certified wit Felder
Rushing answers your questions and lays down some green-wisdom. You can
get more of your Felder fix at www.slowgardening.net.