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19292Re: [AZ] RE: Question

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  • George Klump
    Nov 6, 2013

      On 11/6/2013 1:54 PM, rhodyman@... wrote:
      RE: RE: [AZ] RE: Question
      11/6/2013 1:53 PM


      Sorry I lost my point when I picked a term that has emotion with it.

      What I meant by selfish is that pruning after bloom only benefits the people that look at the plant and serves no benefit to the plant.  I meant it in the technical sense, not moral sense.  I doubt if anyone can find a reason why it benefits a plant to let it bloom before pruning it, especially since the pruning is before seed is produced.

      I didn't mean to imply that people that prune after bloom are doing anything wrong. I do it and I tell other people to do it.  

      I discussed this with staff members at the National Arboretum and they suggest that for severe pruning, that one remove 1/3 each year but do it by removing 1/3 of the large branches each year and doing it in March so that the plant has 2 more months of regrowth.  It has nothing to do with the bloom, it is entirely about the additional time after the pruning.  They consider this very important.   I still agree with Harold.  In practical terms it is normally better to prune either severely or otherwise after the azalea has bloomed.  It doesn't take months for the plants to harden off for winter. 

      Their azaleas have 2 major growth spurts, one in March/April and another in May/June.  They want to take advantage of both.  At the National Arboretum the severe pruning this spring removed just about every leaf so it was important that the new regrowth have the best chance of taking advantage of both growth spurts and hardening off before winter.  It was the first time that most of the plants had ever been pruned and the USDA only had money to do it once and done.  They brought in a large crew and completed it in a timely manner.  It was not a routine pruning.   We've noticed over the years that most of the rhododendron family, which includes azaleas, of course, tend to expand their root structures in the autumn time.  Satsuki's tend to be late bloomers as a group, so what the National Arboretum did because of budget constraints wouldn't really work well for most of the azaleas with which we've ever come in contact.  Besides, it was our understanding that the NA had a special problem with unkempt azaleas over many acres. 
        The person that had asked the question on line here was in a similar predicament that they wanted to do a severe pruning and not just use the 3 year plan.  They weren't enjoying much bloom anyway and they may have gotten a beautiful blooming plant the next year.

      You are entirely right in saying that enjoying our plants beauty before pruning in no way harms our plants but in some rare cases there may be in an advantage to foregoing the bloom if the plants are going to be severely pruned. It would have been better for the National Arboretum to spread their pruning over 3 years and they could have done it after the bloom each year, but since they had the constraint to do it in one concentrated time, they way they did it was better. I will have to go back next spring and see how it turned out.  Don Hyatt thought it was handled as well as could be expected under the restraints they had.  The NA was a special case, as you have said, which I would not want to see adopted generally for private gardens.  If pruning is done as Harold suggested, I don't see that there would be any real problem with any kind of azalea assuming it is otherwise properly cared for. 

      George E. Klump
      Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA

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