Q: In the course of clearing some old heavy undergrowth I discovered several deciduous azaleas. Some have pink, honeysuckle-like blossoms; others have orange blossoms. Because they have been struggling to survive in that shady jungle, they are very spindly…one is perhaps nine feet tall with a trunk that is no more than one and one-half inches in diameter. Not much is growing below the top. How and when to prune them? Can I cut them back severely? Can they be moved and have a decent chance of survival?
A: You can prune the azaleas severely as long as they have bright semi-shade surrounding them. The light is necessary to stimulate the growth of dormant buds which will develop into new limbs and branches. If there is insufficient light where they are growing, you can move them now. Concentrate on identifying and excavating as many roots as possible; don’t worry about how much soil comes with them. Transplant them immediately to a suitable spot that you have thoroughly tilled and amended the soil with soil conditioner.
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