You had high hopes when planting azaleas, particularly the Encore® Azaleas that enticed your senses with the promise of repeat blooms. “So what happened?” you ask, “Is there a reason my azaleas are not blooming well?”
Fear not, this situation need not be permanent. Following are six common reasons azaleas may not bloom abundantly and their remedies. Simply follow our advice, and you, too, will enjoy the robust, repeat blooms for which Encore® Azalea is notable.
Encore Azaleas need more light than other azaleas for maximum bloom production – typically about six hours a day. Morning sun is ideal. Azaleas with insufficient light will grow lanky, as though reaching for the sun, and will display sparse blooms. You may also need to prune nearby trees to allow more sun to filter through the canopy.
Simply put, the weather may be responsible. A late spring freeze or unusually cold temperatures before plants have hardened off in the fall may damage buds, leading to lackluster performance when it’s time to bloom.
A common culprit is pruning at the wrong time. To avoid removal of future buds – which prevents blooming altogether – prune immediately after spring flowering. Find more pruning tips here!
Insufficient moisture when buds are forming in late spring and summer will diminish flowering. Be sure Encore Azaleas receive consistent water throughout the growing season. An inch of water per week is ideal. Maintain a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around azaleas to conserve moisture and keep roots cool.
Selecting and using a fertilizer with too much nitrogen will promote leaf growth at the expense of flower bud formation. Fertilizers rich in nitrogen, such as lawn fertilizers, are not appropriate. Established azaleas that are well mulched may need little or no additional fertilization. If your azaleas are growing poorly and exhibiting signs of nutrient deficiency –- such as yellowing leaves –- an organic fertilizer such as cottonseed meal, fishmeal or blood meal is best. Or, use a balanced fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants.
If you did not begin with a container-grown shrub, you may simply need to wait a bit longer for the desired results. Many azaleas need two to three years to bloom from a rooted cutting. Plants started from seeds may take even longer.