Removing the flower buds from satsuki azalea bonsai is a common technique for getting a tree to focus on producing new growth instead of flowering.
Satsuki azalea – Momoka
Although I’d love to enjoy the tree’s flowers this year, I’d rather it grow as much as possible and gain the vigor that will be necessary before I can continue the tree’s training as bonsai.
The work is simple but requires care. I start by identifying a flower bud.
I then grab the bud and gently bend it to one side until it separates.
Grabbing the bud
Removing the bud
I typically use my left hand to support the base of the shoot as I do this to prevent the shoot from breaking. Azalea shoots are brittle – if this work is done too quickly or without adequate care it’s easy to snap the shoot.
Once the shoots are removed the tree is ready for spring. Until new roots are established, I’ll keep the trees in a warm, humid, environment and mist them throughout the day until the weather warms up at which point I can take the trees outdoors.
After removing flower buds
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Ciao Jonas! When you said “Until new roots are established” it’s just for azaleas repotted in the same year?
Jonas Dupuich says
Hi Alessandro! Yes, I’ll just protect the bare-root azaleas in the greenhouse. Azaleas typically do fine outdoors in winter where I live. By keeping the recently bare-rooted trees in the greenhouse I can help them get established faster than if they were outdoors.
Pumpkin Becki says
This is interesting, I watched a Bonsai Mirai stream with Peter Warren guest demonstrating. He said don’t remove the flower buds because they drive the Azalea to grow. I guess this is not your experience. I have a pre-bonsai Azalea, and I really don’t want to mess it up!
Jonas Dupuich says
Thanks for the note – I removed the flower buds on the advice of the azalea growers from which I acquired the trees. I’ve practiced this for years but I have yet to do an experiment comparing the results both ways. Will be curious to learn more if there’s good evidence one way or the other.