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Old azalea - what to do?

Stephanie newish gardenerStephanie newish gardener Aberdeenshire/Moray coastPosts: 453
I took these pics in November and never got round to posting them. This is an old azalea that has gorgeous purple flowers in spring, and sometimes it tries to flower a second time, as you can see.

I kind of think it needs some sort of pruning, as much as anything because it is overhanging the lawn a fair bit and putting quite a strain on its main stem.

There are a couple of other self-seeded rogues in it that need pulling out, but what, if anything should I do with it and when?


  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,269
    That's a bit of a tricky problem. Normally the advice is not to prune azaleas but as it's now overhanging the lawn, you could either prune those branches right back or possibly curve the lawn around it?  Pruning should be done after it has flowered I believe.  Then give it a good mulch of well rotted manure and some slow release fertiliser after it has rained. Whatever the upright green plant is I would try to pull it up or dig it out. if you can do neither, then cut it off at soil level and keep doing that everytime it regrows. Hopefully eventually it will starve itself and die.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,623
    The best time to prune azaleas is immediately after flowering finishes.  Any later and you'll affect the flowers produced for the next season.

    Renovation pruning is best done in early spring and you can cut back quite hard if you don't mind missing out on flowers for a year or two.   An alternative approach would be to do it gradually over 3 years - remove one third of the stems back to their base in early spring.  Choose the oldest looking and any dead, diseased or damaged stems.   The following 2 years you repeat the procedure and that way your plant will be completely renewed and can be managed by a light pruning after flowering.

    Make sure your secateurs, loppers and pruning saw are clean and sharp before you start and feed the plant afterwards with some good ericaceous feed and mulch.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,269
    Beautifully put @Obelixx. I've got an old azalea as well but have always been afraid to touch it so will follow your advice after it's flowered. 
  • Stephanie newish gardenerStephanie newish gardener Aberdeenshire/Moray coastPosts: 453
    Rik56 said:
    Honestly.. I'd get shut of it.  Its given its best - dig it up, mulch it and go shopping for something else...or move another one of your shrubs to replace it.
     :open_mouth: Really?? It's one of my favourite and reliable providers of colour, and a gorgeous colour at that.  My garden is ridiculously big but has very little proper colour in it (I don't class green, green and more green as a colour!) and I look forward to seeing it every spring.
    So far I'm with Obelixx on doing the three year renovation, which hopefully should retain some colour while rejuvenating and producing new shoots that will in turn give some more lovely colour.

    @Rik56, if you have time and a spade then I have lots of other shoddy old shrubs and assorted weeds that really need to come out....  ;)
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 27,623
    As it's one you like I'd certainly recommend trying to renew it.  Maybe also take cuttings from the material you prune out as insurance.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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