I have very old azaleas which have not had any care other than pruning out the dead over the past several years. Now I notice something that looks like lichens on the stems. Can I be correct? Does it hurt? Is it a sign that they need some better care? What kind? Thanks for your expertise.
Lichens are completely harmless to shrubs and trees. They do tend to grow on still or slow-growing things. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/lichens
You mention that your azaleas are old; perhaps they have other problems, but if the stems are developing healthy foliage/flowers, just enjoy them.
You are welcome to send us photos of the azaleas if you have other concerns and would like us to take a look. You can click on "choose file" below and attach up to three files from your photo library.
Thanks for the info