After blooming care of a Satsuki azalea, ‘Kinsai’

The show was spectacular this year. Here are a few shots in full bloom.

As the flowers begin to fade, it is time to remove them. Before they’re removed, it is important to identify shoots that produce the wider petal flowers. They can become dominant and take over the tree. The appeal of Kinsai is the thin petal flowers, so they need to be protected. Shoots with wide petals won’t revert back to thin petals, so now is the time to find them and remove them:

Fat flowers
After removing fat flowers, and before starting to remove the rest.
Obligatory halfway done shot
Last of the flowers removed.
The tree is fed heavily with fertilizer cakes, and drenched with fish emulsion.

This work was completed on May 21. It will be fed heavily, and left to rest for 10 days, and then pruned back.

So, on May 31, here is the tree, beginning to grow again:

And here it is, pruned back pretty hard. The goal is to keep the tree “young”, always replacing some aging branches with new shoots. To do this, it requires some aggressive pruning, which makes the tree look rough for a while:

But, azaleas grow fast, and by the end of July, it was nearly full again. Here is the result, and how the tree will spend the rest of the year:


Ben Oki Azalea (what’s left of it)

Last year I reworked this Kurume azalea into a design I could live with. It is ok, but so far it is still a ghost of what it once was.

As normal, I reduced clusters of flower buds down to a single, to give each flower its own space,

Before bud thinning
After bud thinning

And the result about a week later.

Spring pruning of a Satsuki azalea, ‘Kinsai’

This year’s blooming was spectacular. The blooms covered the entire tree, they were a deep red, and due to selective pruning over the last few years, only a few flowers of the “mother variety”. Here is the show.

And when the blooms begin to fade, it’s time to cut them off.

I used those small red-handled defoliating scissors, hinged at the base to spring back open, making the job a bit easier. And, starting from the top and working my way down, the flowers were trimmed off.

But when I get to the reverted, mother variety flowers, it’s important to remove more than just the bud. The entire shoot or branch needs to go, to prevent their flowers from taking over the tree. Kinsai are adored for the deep red, thin petal flowers. Here is an example of the mother variety flower:

Here is another example where 3 shoots emerge, 2 reverted and one hasn’t. So I can trim back the two, and leave the third.

And I throw these away so I don’t accidentally strike cuttings from these shoots. My luck, those would be the ones to root.

Money shot with all flowers removed.

Next up is pruning. As azalea twigs age, they constrict and weaken, so it is important to cut hard and replace old with new, always renewing the tree and keeping it young.

Interior twigs that have died are removed.

After the first round of pruning:

Next up, just a little wiring to spread out branches and fill in some of the voids.

Since I mentioned cuttings, so far I haven’t had much luck with them. Maybe a 10% strike rate so far, but I decided to try again. This time, I struck 44 cuttings, so let’s see next year how many, if any, remain.

The left tray is all Kinsai, the right tray has Kinsai on the bottom, and another cultivar at the top…the name is lost, but I suspect it is ‘Matsunami’.

A night shot a few days later.