Azaleas are plants that can live for a long time. But, that’s assuming you look after them so that they grow back every year!
Evergreen azaleas grow back every year. Other azaleas can also grow back if you offer them rejuvenating pruning in late winter or early spring.
There are a few factors that decide if the azalea will grow back. Let’s find out more about growing azaleas back.
What Affects Azaleas’ Ability to Grow Back?
Some plants grow better than others, even when they are of the same species! When it comes to azaleas, these plants definitely show variation in growth.
These are the following reasons why an azalea would take a long time or short time to grow back.
Age of Plant
Older plants and younger plants stand different chances of growing back. Also, their rate of growing back is very different for obvious reasons.
Generally, young plants that are not yet established have a lower chance of surviving the elements. But, when conditions are favorable, younger plants can grow very rapidly!
Established plants are more hardy than younger plants. Old plants can undergo damage easier than established plants. Also, they are not the best at growing very fast, even when conditions are suitable.
So, plant age is an important aspect to consider when factoring in how soon your plant will grow back.
The season at hand does play an important role in influencing an azalea’s ability to grow back or grow at all! Azaleas won’t bother growing in fall since winter follows. Instead, they will fall into a dormant state and prioritize survival instead of growth.
Spring and Summer are the seasons in which azalea plants are most likely to grow or grow back if they have been pruned. Expecting an azalea to grow back in winter is unreasonable.
Hence, you should not carry out any radical pruning in the fall just before winter.
Extent of Pruning
Pruning is an activity that is known to help plants struggling to grow. It induces shooting of which most will bear flowers. But beyond a certain extent, pruning will be harmful to a plant! Not everyone knows how to prune an azalea plant.
Some pruning methods can do more harm than good. Professional azalea growers state that azalea bushes are not meant to be molded into a particular shape.
So, azaleas are not a hedging option. In fact, shaping them this way can harm the growth of the plant.
Beneficial azalea pruning to make them grow back will consist of pruning each branch one by one.
A major condition that influences whether or not azalea bushes will grow back is the conditions it is in. If an azalea is unsatisfied or unhappy with its environment, it certainly won’t be growing. Every part of the environment has to be suitable in order to support growth.
Azaleas prefer fertile and mildly acidic pH when it comes to soil. Their roots are more wide than deep. This is in the attempt of soaking up nutrients and minerals before they leach any deeper. Additionally, alkaline soil won’t favor azalea growth.
Excessive humidity is not sufficient for azalea growth but nor are poor humidity levels. You have to make sure the soil is moist but the spacing is adequate.
Many people think that azaleas are sun-loving plants, this is false. These plants do not find full sun comfortable, in fact, it may even kill them. It’s better to think of them as plants with a 50:50 requirement for sun and shade.
Preferably, they like morning sun and afternoon shade. If you don’t have a spot that offers this, you can plant them beneath taller trees.
Here the azaleas will receive ‘dappled sunlight’ which is optimal for them to grow back after periods of dormancy.
If you want your azaleas to grow, you have to take care of them properly. This involves providing them with everything they cannot retrieve themselves (using their roots). This mainly comes down to the watering efforts you apply.
Azaleas are shallow-rooted and cannot reach down to the water table in the soil. You will have to water them constantly or generously.
Either way, it should be enough to keep the soil moist. Soil is prone to drying out top-down, this is bad for their shallow roots.
Also, another part of caring for your azalea involves pruning. Pruning stimulates growth and keeps your azalea compact.
Using pruning you can remove dead/dying foliage so resources are focused on the parts with the potential to grow.
Pests and Disease
Are your azaleas suffering from a disease or pest infestation? If so, this could impact their ability to expand. The disease can result in poor or even stunted growth of an azalea plant.
When disease strikes early, it’s even worse news for the plants. Chances of survival are lower, especially when the season approaching is not a kind one! The winter season is not a good one, and the plants may not take well to it.
Pests such as leafminers and lace bugs can affect azaleas. Both pests tend to feed on the plant and debilitate any chances of growth. But there are ways to prevent and remove such ill effects if they are caught in time.
For lace bug control, the application of insecticidal soap will suffice. In the case of leafminers, first, you will have to remove the infected area first.
This appears as a soot-covered area. On removal, spray a solution containing horticultural oil.
Will Azaleas Grow Back If Cut Down To The Ground?
So, for the big question on everyone’s mind, will azaleas grow back if cut down to the ground? Well, their ability to grow back greatly depends on the situation at hand.
Most Encore azaleas (Evergreen azalea types) grow back every year either in spring or fall. Other azaleas originating from the deciduous azalea type won’t grow back unless pruned particularly well.
NOTE: This particularly applies to established and relatively young azalea plants.
In the case of older azaleas, there are equal chances that they will or will not grow back.
These plants are often harder to transplant and harder to prune. Often, they reach a time in their long lives where they stop growing. The odds may vary depending on:
- Age of azalea
- Health (pest/disease free or not)
- Care – pre-care and post-care
- Degree and method of pruning applied
- Environmental conditions
Also, never cut back an azalea to less than 12 inches above the ground!
Want to move your azalea? Read about how azaleas bushes can be transplanted.
Pruning Azaleas Properly to Assure It Grows Back
When pruning, you have to make sure you choose the right method. Wrong methods and drastic pruning (too much pruning on one day) can spell bad news for your azalea plants, young or old.
- For younger healthy azalea plants, maintenance pruning is the best approach. This keeps the plant tidy and promotes growth.
- For established or older azalea plants, maintenance or rejuvenating pruning is a good idea. Rejuvenating pruning helps to stimulate better flowering because it especially stimulates shooting of flower-producing stems.
- For older azalea plants that are not showing much growth let alone flowering radical pruning could be your only hope. This type of pruning does essentially involve cutting back azaleas a lot. But, don’t carry out radical pruning in a short time, it could kill the plant.
Cutting back an established or young azalea plant doesn’t make much sense and could be more damaging than beneficial. The plant may undergo enough shock to prevent it from growing back!
You will want to avoid this. Choose your pruning technique carefully. Get expert gardening skills if you need to, or practice on other plants to hone your skills.
Read more about cutting back azaleas.
Azaleas Growing Back – Tips
Want your azaleas to grow back every year? Here are a few tips to take note of to provide the best care for your azaleas.
Sunlight and Shade
The ability to survive in intense sunlight varies among the different azalea groups. The “White group” azaleas are particularly intolerant to too much sun.
It dries up its flowers and induces falling off. 80℉ or 27℃ is the maximum temperature it withstands.
On the other end of the spectrum, the “Northern Light” group azaleas can tolerate temperatures below 20℉, -6.7℃!
Generally, azaleas grow between the range of 30℉ to 80℉ (-1 ℃ to 26.7 ℃).
Protection Against Cold/Snow
When winter approaches, what course of action will you take? It does matter because this can affect the outcome of your azalea plants.
Azalea plants won’t grow back if they have been extensively damaged by winter cold and frost.
Hence, winter protection is necessary. You can build up four poles around your plant and cover them with burlap to protect your plants. Alternatively, you can cut the bottom off a bucket and put it over the plant as a shield.
Water Them Based on Temperature
The watering routine for your azaleas will depend on the climate and season you are experiencing. Change of season (temperature) will also call for a change in watering.
The USA has hardy zones 1 to 13, where Zone 1 is the coldest and Zone 13 is the warmest. The best zones to grow azaleas are Zone 4 to 8.
If you live in colder climates (cold seasons) or have more shade, water the azaleas a few times a month. But if you live in warmer climates (hot seasons), watering once or twice a week is necessary. Also, soil drainage must be considered.
Are azaleas really thirsty plants? Find out in our article about azalea water needs.
Evergreen azaleas are known to grow back every year. In fact, all azaleas can grow back yearly if given the correct pruning. But, this type of pruning (rejuvenating or maintenance pruning) must be given at the correct time.
To make your azalea grow back, make sure to prune them in late winter (when temperatures slightly increase) or in early spring.
Selecting the wrong pruning method, at the wrong time of year may result in your azalea not growing back. As for old azalea plants, they have a 50/50 chance of not growing back!
All you can do is look after your azaleas and make sure all conditions and care are satisfactory for growth!
In some instances you have to cut back your plant, these are if they are not growing or infected with the disease. If may or may not grow back. This depends on the care given and conditions. Sometimes even if all surroundings are optimal, the plant still may not grow back.
Yes, an azalea can grow back after being pruned. It depends on what type of pruning you use and when you do it. Radical pruning has relatively lower chances of making an azalea grow back compared to rejuvenation/maintenance pruning.