Azalea plants thrive with a little regular care and maintenance. One of the home gardener's routine maintenance tasks is to deadhead the spent azalea flowers. Follow these simple guidelines to properly deadhead azaleas.
What Is Deadheading?
Deadheading is the process of removing spent or faded blooms. Deadheading applies to many types of annuals and perennials and is considered a gardening maintenance task. Deadheading azalea plants helps to prevent the spread of petal blight, a fungal disease that causes petals to brown and rot and is spread by dropped petals. Deadheading encourages the azalea plant to produce more blooms.
Step 1 – Check Azalea Plant
Examine the azalea plant to determine the extent to which deadheading may be required. If the plant is loaded with spent blooms, it may not be necessary to deadhead but it may be a much better looking plant if you remove the blooms.
Step 2 – Examine Stem For Blank Space
Look at the stem of the azalea to find a blank space. The blank space is the spot between the old flower stem and the new leaves where the fingers can work in to remove the old spent flower.
Step 3 - Removing Spent Blooms
Work your way into the blank space and bend the stalk in the direction of the blank space. Carefully break off the flower stalk without removing buds forming at the base of the flower. The forming buds will like tiny brown growth knobs.
Step 4 – Work All Around The Plant
Use the same process of deadheading spent or faded blooms that show signs of petal blight fungus.
Step 5 – Gather Spent Blooms
Working around the plant, gather the spent blooms into a container. Do not toss them on the ground because petal blight is spread by fallen or dropped diseased flowers and spores develop on spent blossoms which can perpetuate the petal blight the next growing season. Discard all spent blooms with any evidence of petal blight. Otherwise, the spent blooms can be placed into a compost pile or tossed into the trash.
Other Deadheading Pointers
Some gardening experts recommend deadheading only occur immediately after the first blooms have faded. Others recommend regular deadheading to encourage even more growth. Some gardening experts believe deadheading only needs to be done on an infrequent basis, such as when petal blight affects the azalea.
With a little careful attention to the azalea plants in the garden, including deadheading as desired or required, the reward will be a profusion of colorful and dramatic blooms throughout the growing season.