Q: The lot next door was heavily treed but has just been partially cleared to make way for a house. As a result my azaleas on that side now receive much more light and a good deal of direct sun. How will this affect them? Some have gotten quite straggly and I’m thinking I should cut them back after the blooming season to allow them to fill in. Will this work?
A: Azaleas prefer dappled sunlight (partial shade). They will survive in full sun but develop insect problems (lace bug). The leaves will get a speckled look or bronzing (almost sunburned). Cutting them back, I believe, will have little impact except to reduce their size and food source. You might consider relocating them or planting some larger shrubs or trees nearby. Several light prunings early in the active growing season will result in compact growth and numerous branches on the present season growth. This pruning should be done after blooming has ceased.