Is deadheading my rhododendrons a MUST? What happens if I don’t? Should I be deadheading my azaleas too?
Removing faded flower trusses from rhododendrons is an important step in keeping your plants healthy and flowering for years to come. By allowing flowers to develop into seed heads, vital energy will be taken away from the plants’ ability to produce flower buds for next season. Another reason for removal is to prevent diseases that may enter through the decaying flowers. Remove spent flowers by pinching the base of the flower cluster between your thumb and index finger. Gently bend the flower stem and pull upward, being careful to not damage the new growth directly below.
Azaleas should also be given the same consideration, especially since the spent flowers usually cover the plant, thus making the discoloration more noticeable. This cleaning will allow the new growth to emerge freely as well.
Remember that the time to fertilize your rhododendron and azaleas is late spring to early summer. The first application should take place when the flowers have faded, with a second application being made 6 weeks later.