|We have had azaleas for several years. They are in a semi-shaded area and are fertilized on a regular schedule. We prune before the buds would be affected. However, we are only getting a few buds. What can we do to produce more flowers?|
The main reasons an azalea will fail to bloom are a lack of light intensity (not necessarily direct sunlight), pruning after mid summer, and poor nutrition.
Choose a site with bright shade (morning sun is all right). In deep shade they will not bloom as well, and in full sun they tend to wilt and suffer.
Azaleas love a soil rich in organic matter. Build a raised planting area using composted pine bark in a 50:50 mix with sand or your native soil. They prefer their growing mix to be on the acidic side. Sometimes, additions of a little powdered sulfur to the mix can be helpful.
Keep them well watered but not soggy. If your water is high pH, which I suspect it is, you may need to use iron chelates to the soil around the bush periodically to keep them green and happy. Fertilize them with a light application of an azalea food every 4-6 weeks from spring through mid summer.
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