How to Prune Azaleas
Azalea Care and Feeding
Azaleas look their best if allowed to grow into their natural shape and should require little pruning, but all too often gardeners plant full-size varieties that grow to 8 to 10 feet tall in a location where a smaller variety would be more appropriate. And even cultivars properly selected and sited sometimes are damaged by disease or freezing weather.
Troublesome Pests Come in Small Packages
The azalea lace bug, Stephanitis pyrioides, feeds on the undersides of leaves by sucking out leaf cells, removing the chlorophyll and causing the top surface of the leaf to appear stippled, speckled or bleached. The damaged leaves will eventually turn brown and fall off, but the plant’s appearance will be flawed for that growing season. Treat them early in spring. Because they are so small, azalea lace bugs are most easily detected by using a magnifying glass or holding a sheet of white paper under the leaf and slapping the leaf’s upper side. The tiny bugs can be seen moving across the paper. Tiny dark dots on the undersides of the leaf, which are azalea lace bug excrement, confirm the presence of the insects. A forceful blast from the water hose will knock the bugs off the shrub but not necessarily kill them. Use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil solutions to spray the undersides of the leaves. If you choose to use chemical or synthetic pesticides, read the label carefully and follow directions.