drought damage

I planted a Blaauws Pink Azalea last May, watered it everyday until I went away for a week and then forgot all about it. I do have a sprinkler system so it has gotten some water. But it is all brown and wilted now. The limbs are still limber.

My question is should I trim it back to get it to grow now or just leave it? Since it is an evergreen, new leaf growth will not cover these dead ones, will it? What should I do? I live in zone 7, Raleigh, NC.
Robbie

Hi Robbie, unfortunately, Azaleas are not recognized as a good drought tolerant plant! They prefer adequate, even moisture, and above all, high humidity.

Fortunately, they are resilient, and can bounce back from quite severe pruning, so yes, prune it back to below the damage, and it should sprout out some new growth to cover the shriveled part.

Leaving the dead or dying parts on it may prevent it from making new growth, and also could potentially encourage disease organisms moving into the dead portions, so that is not an option. Always prune off damage like that, no matter what time of year it is.

I think that it will most likely come back fine, but it will look a bit shabby for the rest of the season, and of course, it may not bloom next year, but that's a small price to pay.

Good luck with your Azalea!
Jacki

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