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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - July 04, 2006

From: Valhalla, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Blooming of native swamp azalea in New York
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a native swamp azalea, very healthy, but it has never bloomed. Do you know why or how I could get it to bloom?

ANSWER:

Swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum) should bloom by mid-July in New York. You don't say how old your azalea is or how many years you have had it, but there are several possibilities. Your azalea does need some sunlight—too much shade can keep it from flowering. Another possibility is that since the flower buds for the next year form in the summer, early fall frosts could kill the buds before they go into dormancy. Additionally, if there is a late spring frost after the buds have come out of dormancy, the flower buds could be killed. Also, since the buds form in the summer, pruning the tree in the summer could remove the flower buds for the coming summer. If you want to prune your azalea when it does finally bloom, you should prune immediately after it has finished flowering.

You can read more about Rhododendron and Azalea Problems from Cornell Cooperative Extension.

 

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