EnviroAnn
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Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 11:18 pm
Location: Central Florida

Azaleas not Blooming

Hi, I live in Central Florida, and my azaleas have never bloomed very much. I see azaleas all over town covered in blooms, and mine have had about five.

The azaleas are on the south side of the house, and they get plenty of morning sun. I had the soil pH checked last year, and it was about 5.5. This could be because it is so close to the foundation, and it is seeping into the soil. I added azalea fertilizer a couple times last year. They get water about twice a week fall through spring and three times a week in summer. I have always mulched them with leaves (mostly oak), and last week I applied my first-ever batch of home-made compost. They are pretty bushy, and I wonder if thinning them would help. I pruned them last June. I always heard August is the cutoff point, but maybe it was too late.

I believe these azaleas are about 30 years old. My family moved into this house in 1985, and they were neglected until I took up gardening in 1995. We've never had much luck getting them to bloom, but they look so much healthier than before, and I am quite fond of them.

Thanks for any help!

[img]https://i571.photobucket.com/albums/ss157/EnviroAnn/DSC02198.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i571.photobucket.com/albums/ss157/EnviroAnn/DSC02199.jpg[/img]
Ann
USDA Zone 9a

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Kisal
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Azaleas, like rhodies, should be pruned shortly after they bloom. Otherwise, you risk cutting off all the flower buds. If possible, I suggest that you not prune your azaleas for a year. See if that helps them to perform better for you.

I would also try to increase the pH of the soil just a bit. Try to get it up to 6 or maybe just a bit more. Azaleas like a slightly acid soil. :)

cynthia_h
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Kisal, 5.5 *is* an acid soil. Are you saying that it may be too acidic for the azaleas, and that they prefer only a slightly acidic soil?

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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Grey
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Gee, that could almost have been my yard once... I lived in Central Florida for about 7 years. I actually dug up my African Iris like yours before we moved. It lives inside all winter, as my hubby just loves that plant.

I know you said plenty of morning sun - but you also said they are on the south side of the house. Are they getting afternoon sun as well then? Ours were kept in the shade - either they only got morning sun, or they got dappled sun through the big old oak trees. Too much light and they are stressed. Further north, like here, they can handle more light (in fact I was an idiot and planted mine in dappled shade like I had in Florida... oops!)

You can try the pH too... don't trim, see what happens.

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Kisal
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cynthia_h wrote:Kisal, 5.5 *is* an acid soil. Are you saying that it may be too acidic for the azaleas, and that they prefer only a slightly acidic soil?

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9
I'm sorry. I got it backwards! :oops: :oops: It's probably fine at 5.5.

My soil runs around 6, and my rhodies and azaleas bloom are covered in blooms every spring. [img]https://bestsmileys.com/clueless/4.gif[/img]

Since my brain faded out on me while I was writing that earlier post, perhaps it's the pruning that's the problem. I never prune my rhodies and azaleas later than early July. [img]https://bestsmileys.com/clueless/4.gif[/img]

Going to go crawl under a rock now. :oops: :oops: :oops:

EnviroAnn
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Location: Central Florida

Kisal, don't worry about it. Ph confuses me all the time.

So, I have a confession. I trimmed my azaleas. :oops: I couldn't help myself. I just think they were too crowded. I am not going to trim them again. Since they just bloomed and others in town are still blooming, it is still early.

I have read that azaleas with lots of little twiggy branches have problems blooming because they put most of their energy into producing leaves. Does anyone else out there believe this is true?
Ann
USDA Zone 9a

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Kisal
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I just prune out dead branches and branches that rub against others. Then I cut back the entire shrub for shape and size. I sprinkle a little rhodie/azalea food around in early spring and again at the end of June or very early in July. That's all I've done for them in the 25 years I've lived here.

They were terribly overgrown when I bought this place. Some of the rhodies had to be at least 12 to 15 feet tall. The property isn't large enough for shrubs that size, so over a period of years, I pruned them back to between 6 and 8 feet tall.

I don't even deadhead them. [img]https://bestsmileys.com/clueless/4.gif[/img]

Here's a picture of one of my rhodies. It isn't quite in full bloom yet. Sorry I don't have pics of my azaleas yet.

[img]https://i252.photobucket.com/albums/hh27/Kisal_photos/100_0114.jpg[/img]

bullthistle
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In northern states it is suggested they get planted on the north side but don't have a clue about FL. Maybe you should go to a nursery and ask them and they might drop by. It won't hurt to ask.

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Kisal
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I suppose, since we're talking about Florida, it's possible that the sun is too strong for the azaleas, although I was told by the folks at Greer Gardens, who specialize in azaleas and rhodies, that azaleas do much better in full sun than rhodies, as long as that's what they're used to. IOW, you shouldn't move a full grown plant from shade to full sun. I've even done that, though, but I was careful to prune the plant back and keep it well watered for the first year. However, I'm sure it doesn't get nearly as hot here in Oregon. The plants might do better if moved away from the side of the house, so they could get better air circulation. Something to think about, anyway.

I have a rhodie that is growing beautifully in full sun on the west side of my yard. It's out by the public sidewalk, though, so it doesn't get reflected heat from the wall of my house. It got kind of ratty looking over the past few years, because I was too ill to go out even to give it water in the summer. Last year, I pruned it back by about 1/3, and it has filled out somewhat. It will take another year or two of care to get it back in shape, though. Its produces lovely huge, deep purple blossoms. I hope it looks nice enough this summer for me to get some photos. :)

cynthia_h
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My maternal grandmother, who lived in Tampa from maybe the late '40s until her death in the '70s, grew azaleas quite successfully.

The azaleas grew on the north and south sides of her house. The north ones were away from the house, along the property-line fence, and the south ones were up against the house and partially shaded during the mid-afternoon by an oak tree.

Since we always visited during the summer, I didn't even know that azaleas bloomed until I was in high school...I just thought Grandma A. grew them for the leaves and as a shrub.

But they were fixtures at her house, maybe 3.5 to 4 feet high.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

EnviroAnn
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Location: Central Florida

Thank you for all your comments and advice. Perhaps the azaleas are getting too much sun. I think they did well for a while in the shade of our oak tree, but it has been trimmed quite a bit, and a lot of sun gets through. I suppose we should think about moving them. It makes me sad, but I do want them to be healthy and bloom.
Ann
USDA Zone 9a

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