Q: Our azaleas showed some signs of winter damage but came back and put on a beautiful display of flowers in late spring. Immediately after blooming, the leaves started to drop from one bush and in less than two weeks the whole bush was brown and brittle. Two weeks later another bush did the same thing, and now a third one has started. What happened to them?
A: Most likely it was due to winter injury, a type that may not show up until late spring. Often it is accompanied by split bark on stems near the soil level. The damage may be caused by failure of the plants to harden for winter. Some azaleas in a planting may be seriously hurt while others nearby may escape injury.
Last winter was a particularly bad one for azaleas. The ground was frozen deep for long periods of time. Azaleas are shallow rooted, the roots were in frozen soil and unable to absorb moisture to replace that lost by the foliage.
Q: We are new at growing roses. Our roses are in bloom and we'd like to cut some for arrangements. Our neighbor tells us not to do it with newly planted roses. Is this right?
A: The removal of leaves from newly planted roses is not a good idea, they need the foliage for food production. If you can take blooms with short stems and no leaves, it will do no harm.