Q: On your radio show, you’ve mentioned “pinching” azaleas several times to make new buds. For those of us in the slow group, what time of year do you do this and where on the plant?
A: Sometimes I use garden jargon without properly explaining what the words mean and I apologize for that. ‘Pinching’, ‘deadheading’, ‘nipping’ and ‘tipping’ all mean the same to me: removing the end of a stem in order to encourage new growth.
Deadheading (removing flowers as they fade) inspires the plant to form new branches, which will grow new flowers. Pinching (removing the growing tip of a branch) stimulates new stems to sprout a few inches under where you pinch.
The reason I advocate pinching azaleas is that the flowers for next year will grow on the tips of branches that grow this summer. It stands to reason that if you help your shrub make more branches, you