I recently replanted azaleas that are approximately 2 years old. Should I leave the leaves that have collected around them for extra insulation or remove them all and just mulch them real good?
Hardiness Zone: 5b
MinDee from Missouri
I wouldn't worry about cleaning them up unless you have had problems in the past with insects or fungal diseases. If this is the case, the fallen leaves will make a nice place for insects and disease spores to spend the winter so you're better off disposing of them (don't compost). If insects and disease are not a factor, I see no harm in leaving them. After all, the leaves can also make an attractive place for beneficial insects to overwinter. The way I look at it, when in doubt, always follow nature's example. Without human intervention, plants naturally rely on the insulating properties of their own leaves to protect them from the elements and provide nutrients again in the spring. Because most of the plants in our gardens are forced to adapt to "artificial" growing conditions, we've got to help them compensate. That said, you will probably want to add some mulch to the leaves anyway, unless you think you have enough leaves to provide adequate winter protection.
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I would remove the old leaves ,just in case there is a bit of disease maybe, and mulch good. You do shread all of your leaves don't you ? :-) best mulch in the world. And also I would give a good fall feeding,either with the stakes for evergreens , or a good multipurpose feed, or you can dig in some of your great leaf mulch first before you mulch them. Then in spring when you uncover them, just dig the mulch back in the soil around the plants. You will be amazed at how they will love you for this. rose
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