Old Azaleas

Asked February 12, 2018, 9:26 AM EST

My azaleas are over 45 years old and this was the first year that they didn’t look healthy. Less leaves & flowers and now lichen growing all over. Is this there life expectancy or is there something I can do to help them?

Rockland County New York azaleas

1 Response

Thank you for your azalea question. It is reported that there are azaleas in Japan that are over 200 years old. However, the winters might have been milder there than in New York. As a general rule, lichens (which are not parasitic) don’t harm plants they’re on unless they are so dense that they weigh down the branches, causing them to break, especially when combined with snow or ice. (And lichens indicate you have clean air!) Have you been fertilizing your azaleas? Have you pruned out deadwood? Do the leaves appear yellow (which might indicate either a nutritional deficiency, such as nitrogen, or an infestation of the azalea lace bug, which sucks out chlorophyll from the undersides of the leaves)? Without a bit more information, I’m afraid I can’t help much. You might want to look through the resources of the Azalea Society to see if you can identify the problem: https://www.azaleas.org Good luck!