Cutting back azaleas - Knowledgebase Question

Pensacola, FL (Zone 8B)
Avatar for lindarelle
Question by lindarelle
April 27, 2007
I have several very large azaleas that seem to be unhealthy. They appear to be thinning and have brown leaves with very few blooms. I have never fertilized them. I am wondering if I can just cut them down to the ground and fertilize them, and will they come back next year? I am in the Florida Panhandle, and is this the time to do it or should I wait till fall?

Answer from NGA
April 27, 2007

I am sorry for this delayed reply to your gardening question. The spring rush has brought a deluge of questions and we are working hard to catch up!

Unless they are very weak they can resprout from a severe pruning. The most likely cause of their lack of vigor are lack of adequate light intensity and lack of nutrients. If they were mine I think I would try a moderate cutting back right away so as not to remove all the foliage and then begin fertilizing them every 4-6 weeks through about mid summer. This will give them time to regrow and set bloom buds for next spring.

Thanks for the question. Best wishes for a wonderful gardening season. Please stop in again soon!

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