Existing Shrubs need help - Knowledgebase Question

Charlotte, NC
Question by kerries
September 28, 1999
How can I improve the healthgrowth of the azealas and other unidentifiable flowering shrubs along the front of my house. It is shady, the bushes haven't had TLC in ages so they are small and very thin in regards to green leafy growth. I'm looking to fatten them up and have no experience with the red clay in which they live. Other than the advice from your other postings for more compost and manure, is there anything else I can add to help these existing plants?

Answer from NGA
September 28, 1999


If the shrubs have been there and survived somewhat on their own for a long time, there may not be too much you need to do. Your approach of adding a topdressing of compost and mulch is a good one, apart from that you might consider trying to identify the shrubs when they bloom. In some cases an area becomes shadier over time because the nearby trees grow larger. This then changes the growing conditions from sunny to shady and can really affect the shrubs planted nearby if they are sun lovers. A symptom of lack of light is wispy and sparse foliage -- although it can also indicate low soil fertility. If they are sunlovers it might be worth replacing them or possibly carefully pruning the trees to allow more light to reach them. Another possibility, and this too really depends on what type of shrubs these are, is renewal or other corrective pruning of the shrubs themselves. Again, identifying the plants is really a critical step.

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