Spring in Ohio. It is a riot of color! I think it's nature's way of rewarding us for putting up with a long, cold, and colorless winter. We go from bleak and gray to absolutely incredible in a matter of weeks. In the blink of an eye all is gorgeous. But then in another blink the blooms are over and verdant, colorful Summer takes over. It's a fair and welcome exchange.
My Azaleas and crab apples are particular favorites. They arrive a week before the Kentucky Derby and remain until a week after the finish line... sometimes they last until the Preakness Stakes! Then, after the blooms are spent it's time to prune and try to keep them in check.
My neighbors are jealous. We have 12 azaleas. All bloom like crazy. The neighbors ask me how I do it. I'm not really sure. I do feed them with Holly Tone® every fall. It's great for acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias and blue hydrangeas (keeps them blue). In spring, I clear out the collected leaves from inside and under the plants to assure that they have good air circulation during the summer - something which discourages white fly and thrips. But other than that I don't do much except prune them within six weeks after the blooms are spent. If you prune later, you'll prune away next year's blooms.