My azalea bushes are healthy but fall over as they grow. How do I prop them up correctly so they will grow upright?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Joyce in Texas: How old is your azalea? All azaleas belong to the Rhododendron genus; some are larger plants than others but azaleas do not typically “fall over” unless they are older plants that have become leggy and may benefit from pruning. If it is planted in too much shade, it may be reaching for more light; if your plant is just a few years old or younger and does not get at least three hours of sun, it may be happier if transplanted somewhere in the garden where it will get morning sun. Staking or tying up your shrub may not the best solution. It would require many stakes and this would jeopardize the aesthetics of the shrub. If you have not pruned your azalea in the past few years, I would recommend this before trying to stake it or tie it up. The best time to do this would be after it flowers in the spring. Pruning now can be done to remove crossing, rubbing, or dead branches. When you cut your azalea back make sure your pruners are clean and sharp. The general rule is to remove no more than one-third of the size of the plant. It is always a good idea to step back and look at the plant before making any cuts. Do this several times while you prune so that you get a nice even result. Pruning will encourage your plant to become more vigorous and full. It will create stronger, more dense wood as opposed to spindly thin wood that ends up falling over with the weight of the blooms.