What Do You Do When Azaleas Don’t Bloom?
Azalea’s make really good bonsai. They’re relatively hardy, easy to grow and wherever you cut them, they’ll start sprouting new growth. They also have very beautiful flowers. There are many different varieties of Azaleas available. The species that are the most popular for bonsai are Kurume and Satsuki hybrids, and as the names suggest, these are a Japanese variety.
Having a flowering bonsai is incredibly fulfilling as a bonsai enthusiast, and many growers enjoy working with Azaleas as they usually bloom quite quickly if properly cared for. These blooms can also come in a variety of colors. Some of the colors include shades of pink, white, red, yellow, pale green, variegated, and some Azaleas even have multiple colors on one tree.
Despite being a relatively easy bonsai, some Azalea owners struggle to get their bonsai to produce these beautiful blooms. In this article, we will look at what can cause your Azalea not to bloom and how you can help it start producing flowers.
Why Might an Azalea Bonsai Not Bloom?
If you get a new species of bonsai that you are unfamiliar with, we recommend that you read a care guide to ensure you know what the tree needs to survive. This becomes even more important when it comes to flowering or fruiting trees because the trees will not produce flowers or fruits if the right conditions aren’t met. Let’s take a look at a few common mistakes that might be preventing your Azalea bonsai from blooming.
Where you decide to place your bonsai will have a significant effect on the tree’s health. Most Azalea trees like to be placed in a spot that gets good morning sun for about six hours and dappled shade in the afternoon with some wind protection. However, remember that there are many varieties of Azalea, and each one’s needs may vary slightly.
If your Azalea gets too much shade, it will continue with green growth but won’t flower.
Watering your Azalea can be a little tricky. These bonsai need the soil to stay moist, but it also has to drain very well as Azalea hat wet-feet. The roots of Azalea can easily get damaged by being waterlogged, which can lead to root rot. If your tree isn’t 100% healthy, it will not produce flowers, so make sure you keep a careful eye on your watering and use good draining bonsai soil for your Azaleas.
Feeding / Fertilizing
Fertilizers are essential when growing bonsai. However, the wrong type of fertilizer can cause issues with your flowering trees, such as Azaleas. When it comes to fertilizing Azaleas, it is recommended that you stay away from fertilizers high in nitrogen. While nitrogen is essential for growth, if you use high nitrogen fertilizer, especially in the growing/flowering season, you might spur foliage growth instead of flowering.
Properly pruning an Azalea can also affect the blooms. In Azaleas, the flower buds for this season’s blooms are already developed in the previous growing season. However, if you pruned too early or too late, you could have damaged the flower buds. This could be why your Azalea isn’t blooming.
Once your Azalea has bloomed, and the flowers start dying, that is the time you need to prune. The new flower buds usually start forming about a month after the flowers have died. If you leave the pruning too late, you may be removing the flower buds as well. This may mean little to no flowers the next season, and you’ll have to wait until the season after that to start seeing blooms again.
The weather can also contribute to your Azalea bonsai not flowering. We already mentioned that Azalea flower buds already develop just after the previous flowering season. Once the flower buds have developed, and the bonsai are exposed to frost and very cold temperatures during winter, it could damage the buds. However, you need to know that Azaleas do require a cooler winter period for the buds to develop but not cold enough to produce frost.
An excessively hot summer can also affect Azaleas blooming. The excessive heat can cause the flower buds to develop too quickly and may start blooming prematurely in an event called bud-blast.
Drought is also another contributing weather factor that could be affecting the flowering of your Azalea. Since Azaleas have shallow roots, you will quickly start to see if they don’t have enough water. The leaves will start to wilt, curl up and die if the plant dries out too much. Consistently drying out can damage the flower buds and lead to your bonsai not flowering.
Container Size vs Root Mass
It is essential that you root prune your Azalea bonsai every few years so that the roots have space to grow and develop in the bonsai container. If you don’t prune the roots every few years, you Azalea, like other bonsai, can become pot-bound. This can affect the overall health of your bonsai as the roots start to suffocate each other. If your Azalea bonsai isn’t healthy, it will not bloom.
How to Help Your Azalea Bonsai to Bloom?
We have covered some of the common reasons why an Azalea bonsai may not be blooming. Now, let’s take a look at what you can do to help your bonsai flower.
Place Your Azalea in the Right Spot
To keep your Azalea bonsai happy and healthy so that it can produce flowers, you need to make sure you place it in the ideal location. This would be a spot where the Azalea can get about six hours of the morning sun, dappled sunlight in the afternoon, and sheltered from the wind.
Prune at the Right Time
To keep your Azalea blooming every year, you need to make sure that you prune the bonsai at the right time. With Azaleas, this time would be as soon as the flowers have all died. The new flower buds that are critical for the next season will start developing about one month after this season’s flowers have died. You need to prune before these flower buds form so that you don’t accidentally prune them away.
Fertilize With the Right Fertilizer
To get your Azalea to grow, you need to use a well-balanced fertilizer that is not too high in nitrogen. However, don’t leave out the nitrogen entirely as it is essential for the tree’s growth. Nitrogen is essential for foliage development, whereas phosphorus and potassium stimulate flower development.
Root Prune Periodically
As with any bonsai, you must prune the roots every couple of years to keep the bonsai from becoming pot bound. Root pruning is essential to keep your bonsai healthy and thriving, which is the only time a bonsai will flower. The Azalea can be root pruned every two years, and remember not to remove more than one-third of the roots.
I will also share a few additional things that you can try to help your Azalea produce flowers. I have recently started implementing these with my bonsai and have seen a difference in my bonsai, especially the flowering ones.
Supplement With Molasses
Molasses is very beneficial for plants for various reasons. Molasses stimulate the development of beneficial micro-organisms needed to keep plants healthy. It reduces plant stress by applying phytochelatins to the foliage. It is also higher in potassium than nitrogen, which is vital for flowering. Using molasses can also increase the flower yield.
You can use molasses as a spray or water the soil directly. For the spray, combine ¼ teaspoon of molasses with 1-liter water and spray on your bonsai once every two weeks, especially during the growing season. To water the soil directly, you can combine 5ml of molasses with one liter of water and water your bonsai with this mixture one or two times a week, especially during the growing season.
Supplement With Banana Tea
Banana tea is made simply by combining banana peels and water and soaking for a few weeks. You can then use this banana tea to water your bonsai. Banana peels contain a lot of potassium which is critical to developing flowers. It is also low in nitrogen, so it won’t stimulate foliage growth. The potassium found in banana tea is also beneficial as it helps move nutrients and water between plant cells. Potassium can also make your plant more resistant to drought. The manganese in banana peels also helps with photosynthesis in plants. There are also traces of magnesium and sulfur, which help create chlorofil.
Azaleas can be truly rewarding and stunningly beautiful bonsai to have in your collection. There are so many varieties of different colored flowers, and seeing them in bloom is a real treat. However, sometimes trees don’t flower, and it can be very disappointing. However, if you make sure to keep the tree healthy and in optimal condition, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy these beautiful flowering bonsai.