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8358Re: [AZ] azalea question

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  • William C. Miller III
    Jul 2 8:14 AM
      Diane, Judy, and Ann,

      It's always nice to have an image/picture of a problem so that one does not have to guess what is meant by "yellow leaves."  The senescence process results in yellow leaves on some azaleas and that would fall under the category of perfectly normal.  Long distance diagnoses are potentially fraught with interpretation errors.  Folks not totally familiar with azaleas  might describe heavy lace bug damage as "yellow leaves" in which case all of the watering and fertilizing in the world won't address the problem.  They might be trying to describe a serious case of chlorosis.  What one does depends on correctly identifying the problem.

      I'm also a little concerned when I hear people recommend that someone "water deeply once a day."  Unless your landscape is pure sand that drains immediately, I wouldn't recommend watering daily since that  sounds to me like a recipe for root rot.  I agree that watering should be thorough --- but I prefer that it be done infrequently.  Even in drought situations, if one is on site only on weekends, that should be a sufficient interval.  With few exceptions, I  would shoot for a ten day interval between waterings --- and then only if I was sure it was necessary.  I suspect many azaleas have succumbed to automatic watering systems which turn-on precisely and probably over water --- or placement under downspouts or other water sources---- resulting in too much water.  I understand that soaker hoses are wonderful, but I have no experience with them.  When things look dry, I end up dragging hose --- and it take me about two days to cover my 0.5 acre landscape of  pines, maples, dogwoods, hollies, azaleas, a few rhodies, various annuals, and a bunch of twenty  year old things in pots.  Occasionally, I'll lose something in a pot, but generally my approach to the landscape seems to be  effective.  There are azaleas that are documented to be over 350 years old (not in my yard), so there is no reason for azaleas not to perform well given their modest requirements.

      It has been my experience that azaleas, properly planted, generally thrive unless a cultural error is made.   Planting root bound right out of the pot, rather than breaking up the root mass; planting too low; over watering; and over fertilizing do in more azaleas than bad weather.

      I was also curious about an earlier  remark that cutting azaleas back causes stress.  It seems to me that cutting back would relieve stress.  But, I look forward to others commenting on that one.

      Bill Miller
      Bethesda, Maryland

      Ann Sawyer wrote:
      I have had trouble keeping some azaleas alive that I planted this spring (in fact, I have lost three and am working hard with some others).  We have had a drought where they are in North Carolina and I am only there to water on weekends. 
      If the leaves on your azalea are yellow, it could be that they need food.  I don't know what kind of food you are giving it, but there is plant food (easily available) formulated for acid-loving plants, which azaleas are.  You are right not to want to over-fertilize.  If what you have given it is for the acid-loving plants, then I'd leave it alone.  If you have given it all-purpose food, you may wish to give it diluted acid-loving food on the schedule recommended on the food.  If it is hot and dry, you need to "baby" this azalea throughout this summer at least.  Water deeply once a day.  A soaker hose or hose set to slow drip at the base of the plant is ideal.  Some of the acid-loving plant food also works by "foliar" feeding (absorption through the leaves), so you may want to water a bit this way occasionally.
      I'm assuming this is an evergreen azalea - if so, keep an eye on it throughout the fall and winter and next summer as well.  If you get freezes where you are, it is best for plants to go into that freezing weather well-watered.  (This may not apply to you in Florida).
      If all goes well, it will grow strong, develop good roots, etc. during the fall and winter and be stronger to go through next summer.  Azaleas, once well-established, are pretty hardy, but their roots are not as deep as many shrubs and always bear watching during any substantial period without rain.
      During its first summer (now) it could be possible that you need to shade it more.  You can rig up a  tarp or whatever - I did this to some of my newbies this year and it helped considerably.  Next summer, the part-shade/part- sun arrangement you have should be fine, but while the plant is getting established, especially if you are in any kind of a drought, the sun may just be adding more stress.  Ideally, the sun should be in the morning with shade in the afternoon - or "dappled" shade all day.
      Good luck.  I have some plants I'm very sentimental about, too.

      Warren Groomes <wgroomes@hotmail. com> wrote:
      We live in Land O'Lakes Florida and have found that azaleas here benefit from amended soil, that is dig a hole larger and deeper that the original root mass.  Fill the hole with a good organic material such as fine pine mulch, replant, make sure the roots are not compact and root bound.  Land O' Lakes is north of Tampa so I hope this helps.  J. Groomes
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Saturday, June 30, 2007 10:02 AM
      Subject: [AZ] azalea question

      I planted a azalea in my garden that is from my mother's funeral so it is very sentimen tal.  That was in February 2007.  It gets part sun and part shade.  I didnt know that its not necessary to fertilize azaleas and I put fertilizer in the soil.  The azalea has never done well and the leaves are yellow.  I dug it up about 4 inches around the diameter to refertilize because I thought it needed more and the other fertilizer is little blue balls.  I think I may be killing it with kindness.  I live in Florida and water it every day because it is so dry here. 
      Can you help me save my azalea, please?
      Diane Clark ( csodclark@hotmail. com )

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