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My Northern Lights Azalea is seasonally confused! Advice?

Bayport, MN

A year ago last July, I bought three Northern Lights azaleas. Late last October, I noticed that they all had big juicy buds. Wasn't sure what to do, so I carefully picked them all off. Well, DH looked out the window this afternoon and said, "Is that azalea blooming?" Sure enough, all three of the plants have big juicy buds and one is even blooming.

Other than bloom confusion, the azaleas appear very healthy. Does anyone have advice for me on what to do to get the azaleas to bloom in when they should in the spring?

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

I have some Northern Lights and have not seen that. I have seen other spring bloomers like lilacs and magnolias flower some in late summer after stressful weather. I guess they think it's spring again. I really don't know what you can do, but it does scare me to pick off buds. I have never touched mine in 3 years.

Waukesha, WI(Zone 5a)

I have a Northern lights azelea and its NEVER bloomed. What are you doing that I'm not? I am soooooooooo jealous., Pooh I want blooms too.
It kooks heathy enough just doesnt get one single bud....what am I doing wrong??????

Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Well, mine look awful and don't grow and when I moved them they barely had roots, but they flower like crazy.
If yours haven't flowered I would be sure not to prune them or have the buds damaged in the spring before they flower.

Thumbnail by bigcityal
Rock Island, IL(Zone 5b)

Don't pick the buds off! (Those buds are next years flowers!!!). A temperature swing in the fall will often cause a few blooms on Azaleas/Rhododendrons - this is quite normal.

As to pruning: Only prune a Rhododendron Azalea right after they flower - no matter if it is an early bloomer, mid bloomer, or late bloomer. And while I say right away, you do have a window of a month or six weeks so that it can set those big juicy buds before winter once again.

Take care,


Bayport, MN

Thanks for your advice Dave, and I am going to follow it.

But in my defense, when I picked those buds off last fall it was late October or possibly even early November and they weren't the little baby ones I am used to seeing in the fall. Those plants were going to try to bloom and that just wasn't going to happen with winter only days away.

So, I guess we'll enjoy the blosoms now and hope to see more in the spring. And if that doesn't happen, my husbands says we are just going to have to dig them up and find an azalea lover in South America ; -)

Thanks again.

Rock Island, IL(Zone 5b)

That's Dax to you sister!

Bayport, MN

Just thought I'd post a followup with photo to this post. It is November 4th, 2007. Last spring, when my azaleas did not bloom again, I pruned them back hoping to encourge them to blossom in the spring of 2008. Evidently all I did was to encourage them to bloom even better this fall. Here is a photo I took this week. The azaleas have been blooming for a about four weeks now. Since everything else in the garden is pretty much finished for the season, my confused azaleas have been quite a treat!

Thumbnail by green_willow
Menasha, WI(Zone 5a)

Wow - strange. Mine all have their big buds for next year and have their fall color.

south central, WI(Zone 5a)

Hmmm, did you have a cold snap early this year? My NL didn't make it (years ago), but my yellow one from NJ has lovely buds for next season. I don't know what happened, but am envious of your blooms, after having a killing freeze last night and ugly garden this AM.

Bayport, MN

Hi Marcia,

We got the hard freeze, too so my Azaleas are finished for now. No early cold snap-- they have been doing this since I bought them (3rd season). Maybe I'll get some flowers in the spring on the branches I trimmed last spring. In any case, I am happy to have them blossom at all.

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