Azaleas are so popular every spring in the south. Here in Georgia it represents the beginning of warm weather for spring and tells us that it’s time to break our slumber and get out in that yard and take back control. In the south, especially Georgia, azaleas thrive in conditions that most other plants detest. Shade and extremely acidic soil is often a deal breaker for other plants and turf grasses in the south but this is where azaleas hit their stride.
When I moved into my house 15 years ago my landscape was evolving slowly but as a couple springs had passed I found that I was jealous of everyone’s azaleas and it was time to do something about it. Having half an acre of tall hickory and oak trees and plenty of shade, the conditions were perfect. One weekend and 60 azaleas later I had done 1 huge mass planting with 3 different types of azaleas, 2 types of Indica azaleas and 1 type of Kurume azaleas.
Growing up with several George Tabor azaleas that were over 8 foot tall, I knew I had to get more of those as well as the brilliant purple Formosa azalea who’s color is unique to other azaleas. These 2 Indica azaleas grow much faster than the Kurume but adding the Kurume which is shorter with darker, smaller leaves broke up the mass planting with its height and gave my yard the max blooming time by having planted early, mid and late blooming azaleas.
This also means that I get to prune these plants 3 different times all about 2 weeks apart of each other. Azaleas need to be pruned within 2 to 3 weeks after they have finished blooming in the spring, as they set bud for the next year’s flowers shortly after blooming. That’s right, so if you prune in the fall then you have cut off all of next spring’s flowers.
Whatever you do, do not trim them with the hedge trimmer. Doing this makes it look like you threw a flowery blanket over a bush next spring. Trust me when I say, it looks bad. Get your pruners and prune the bushes at 2 or 3 different depths. This allows for flowers to have depth into the bushes and you can increase your bloom time by several days and it looks much better.
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