Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Home and Garden

Timely tendings in Florida: growing azaleas, pruning roses

Azaleas will always perform better if they are planted in partial shade. They tend to become infested with lace bugs when grown in full sun. Purchase azalea plants while they are blooming. The planting hole for azaleas in containers or balled and burlapped plants should be 12 inches wider than the root mass but not quite as deep as the root ball or soil surface in the container. Fill the hole so that the azaleas are planted slightly above the depth they were in the container or nursery. Organic mulch applied to a depth of 2 to 3 inches will conserve water and reduce weed problems. Be sure to keep mulch 2 to 3 inches away from the base of the plant. November to February is the best season for transplanting; however, azaleas in containers may be transplanted at any time if proper care is provided. Plants should be spaced according to mature size of the cultivar but generally 3 to 5 feet apart.

Prune roses now to remove damaged canes and improve overall form. For this major annual pruning you should shorten the main canes and lateral branches to an outward facing bud, and then remove small twigs and canes that are dead, diseased, injured or spindly. Your objective is to regulate height and improve air circulation and light distribution within the plant. This will help with disease control. Leave about half the length of each main cane that is 1 to 3 years old. Remove any dead leaves and debris around the plant to reduce fungal spores; add a new layer of mulch. Fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer formulated for roses. You should see new flowers in about eight to nine weeks.

Sources: Carol Suggs and Theresa Badurek, Pinellas County Extension Service. Learn more at or