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Azaleas in USDA Zone 10

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  • Terry Hinkley
    Hi:   Will azaleas survive in hard clay alkaline soil in the heat of our San Diego, CA summer?  They re lovely now, but I m afraid they can t take our hot
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 27, 2012
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      Hi:
       
      Will azaleas survive in hard clay alkaline soil in the heat of our San Diego, CA summer?  They're lovely now, but I'm afraid they can't take our hot summers.  Our patio gives off a lot of reflected heat and light.  We are semi-arid in our neighborhood, very hot and sunny and dry, and I'm afraid they will die.  What are their chances in hard alkaline clay soil, in hot dry temperatures with no acid amendments added to the soil when planted in the ground?
       
      Thank you for your replay.
       
      Sincerely,
      Terry
       
       
      Terry Tucker Hinkley
      4127 38th St. #2
      San Diego CA 92105-1365
      Phone 6192836223
      Spouse Cell Phone 6197234558
      Email Addresses:
       
    • George Klump
      27 February 2012 Greetings, Terry, You have asked some good questions and I just happen to know your area rather well. In the first place, azaleas should
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 28, 2012
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        27 February 2012

        Greetings, Terry,

        You have asked some good questions and I just happen to know your area rather well. 

        In the first place, azaleas should survive there alright.  In the second place, they must be properly planted to do so.  In the third place, they will not do well in the alkaline soil which is found in sections of San Diego County.  So what to do?

        First, let's consider that the root ball of your azaleas measures roughly 6 inches in diameter.  Therefore we should dig a hole about 18 inches in diameter for each one.  Second, let's consider that most of them are about 6 inches in depth, the root ball that is.  Therefore let us make the hole you dig only about 7 or 8 inches in depth. 

        Now the next step is to make a planting mixture which will work for you, be stable and last for years.  First ingredient: coarse peat moss, sometimes sold as spahgnum peat moss.  Second ingredient, perlite.  Third ingredient, shredded red wood bark.  All of these items should be available at any good nursery.  Mix these three ingredients together physically in equal parts by volume, i.e. 1 - 1 - 1.  They need not be exact, just eyeball it. 

        With that done, fill one of the holes you've dug up probably two-thirds of the way with the mixture.  Take your hose and soak it till it becomes a "soup" and let it drain.  Take an azalea plant out of the pot, blow off as much of the dirt of the root ball as you can, maybe, 60% to 70%, if possible.  Set the azalea [with all of its roots bare so to speak] in the middle of the wet mixture and spread out the roots away from the plant.  Then, take the rest of the mixture [which is dry, of course] and spread it around the azalea up to the place where it was in the pot, probably an inch or so below the crown, NOT higher.  Take your hose again and soak all of it once again gently so that you don't blow the mixture out of the hole and turn it all to "soup" a second time.  Walk away. 

        If you prefer, you can make a row dug out this way, i.e. one straight bed maybe two feed wide and 7 or 8 inches deep and fill that with the mixture.  Azalea roots will grow out horizontally anyway. 

        Do that with all of your azaleas you choose to plant.  Just as a suggestion, allow for plant growth which means do not plant them any closer than 4 to 4 1/2 feet on center.  Otherwise, they will crowd each other too much in time.  If you're dealing with some Belgian Indicas, be sure that they have some shade during the day, probably any reasonable time after lunch.  If they are Southern Indicas, that won't be a real concern, since they will tolerate more sun than most azaleas will.  Various other hybrids will work there just as well, if you plant them using the same care and allow for some shade during the afternoon.  It doesn't have to be solid shade at all, but there should be some overhead shade protection. 

        During the summer months, do not let the azaleas dry out completely in the hot weather.  Azaleas will take just about all the water you can give them SO LONG AS the water drains away from the roots about as fast as it comes in.  In the winter time, do the same thing, if there is a cold front coming in where wind is a factor.  Wind can desiccate an azalea in a hurry, so see to it that the root zone around each azalea has plenty of water during those times. 

        What to feed them?  Here's our suggestion: Buy some cottonseed meal at some good nursery.  How to feed them?  Put no more than a cupful of cottonseed meal around the base of each azalea and water it in gently.  It might be well to have the plant watered first before you do this and, then, just water it in gently after that.  When to feed them?  Here's our schedule: Easter, Fourth of July and Labor Day.  NO MORE THAN THAT!  Azaleas do not like too much feeding, so stick with an organic fertilizer like this and 1] you will not burn the plants because 2] cottonseed meal is a slow release fertilizer and 3] you will find that the azaleas will be very happy.  Too many people overfeed these plants and they do not like it!  Once the new growth has been put on, say, in late September to October, don't prune anything, since the flowers for the next season will come out on the new growth.  If you wish to prune an azalea, wait till shortly after they have bloomed and, then, be judicious. 

        San Diego water is notorious for being worse than the alkaline soil.  Ask them what the general pH of the water is during the summer and also during the winter.  I have an idea it may be pushing 8.0 which is like pouring gasoline on a fire.  Hence, my suggestion for the cottonseed meal.  I use it here all the time on that schedule above.  My soil is mostly decomposed granite which is porous and slightly acidic, so I'm okay there.  The pH of our water [most of which comes out of the San Gabriel Mountains] is about 6.5 during the summer months and closer to 7.0 during the winter.  We have probably 50 + azaleas out in the yard plus an equal number of vireya rhododendrons [lepidote] plus elepidote rhododendrons plus camellias and roses and clivia where it's too shady for anything else.  They are all fed by cottonseed meal at the times indicated above.  

        I would be interested to know how this all turns out.

        George E. Klump
        Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA     







        On 2/27/2012 5:16 PM, Terry Hinkley wrote:  
        Hi:
         
        Will azaleas survive in hard clay alkaline soil in the heat of our San Diego, CA summer?  They're lovely now, but I'm afraid they can't take our hot summers.  Our patio gives off a lot of reflected heat and light.  We are semi-arid in our neighborhood, very hot and sunny and dry, and I'm afraid they will die.  What are their chances in hard alkaline clay soil, in hot dry temperatures with no acid amendments added to the soil when planted in the ground?
         
        Thank you for your replay.
         
        Sincerely,
        Terry
         
         
        Terry Tucker Hinkley
        4127 38th St. #2
        San Diego CA 92105-1365
        Phone 6192836223
        Spouse Cell Phone 6197234558
        Email Addresses:
         

      • Mike Creel
        George, I think your recommendations are excellent, as always.  Couldn t deciduous native azaleas also be grown in San Diego city scapes just as you describe
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 28, 2012
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          George, I think your recommendations are excellent, as always.  Couldn't deciduous native azaleas also be grown in San Diego city scapes just as you describe below for evergreens?  Western azalea grows natively at several locations in San Diego county, all mountainous I think.  I visited and photographed the occidentale (May 18, 2009) in starting bloom at Fry Creek Campground on Mount Palomar road.  Cuyamacha State Park in San Diego County also has native occidentale
           
          Mike Creel, SC USDA Zone 8a
          Lexington, South Carolina
          From: George Klump <mixturev@...>
          To: azaleas@yahoogroups.com
          Cc: Terry Hinkley <terryhinkley@...>
          Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 8:58 PM
          Subject: Re: [AZ] Azaleas in USDA Zone 10

           
          27 February 2012

          Greetings, Terry,

          You have asked some good questions and I just happen to know your area rather well. 

          In the first place, azaleas should survive there alright.  In the second place, they must be properly planted to do so.  In the third place, they will not do well in the alkaline soil which is found in sections of San Diego County.  So what to do?

          First, let's consider that the root ball of your azaleas measures roughly 6 inches in diameter.  Therefore we should dig a hole about 18 inches in diameter for each one.  Second, let's consider that most of them are about 6 inches in depth, the root ball that is.  Therefore let us make the hole you dig only about 7 or 8 inches in depth. 

          Now the next step is to make a planting mixture which will work for you, be stable and last for years.  First ingredient: coarse peat moss, sometimes sold as spahgnum peat moss.  Second ingredient, perlite.  Third ingredient, shredded red wood bark.  All of these items should be available at any good nursery.  Mix these three ingredients together physically in equal parts by volume, i.e. 1 - 1 - 1.  They need not be exact, just eyeball it. 

          With that done, fill one of the holes you've dug up probably two-thirds of the way with the mixture.  Take your hose and soak it till it becomes a "soup" and let it drain.  Take an azalea plant out of the pot, blow off as much of the dirt of the root ball as you can, maybe, 60% to 70%, if possible.  Set the azalea [with all of its roots bare so to speak] in the middle of the wet mixture and spread out the roots away from the plant.  Then, take the rest of the mixture [which is dry, of course] and spread it around the azalea up to the place where it was in the pot, probably an inch or so below the crown, NOT higher.  Take your hose again and soak all of it once again gently so that you don't blow the mixture out of the hole and turn it all to "soup" a second time.  Walk away. 

          If you prefer, you can make a row dug out this way, i.e. one straight bed maybe two feed wide and 7 or 8 inches deep and fill that with the mixture.  Azalea roots will grow out horizontally anyway. 

          Do that with all of your azaleas you choose to plant.  Just as a suggestion, allow for plant growth which means do not plant them any closer than 4 to 4 1/2 feet on center.  Otherwise, they will crowd each other too much in time.  If you're dealing with some Belgian Indicas, be sure that they have some shade during the day, probably any reasonable time after lunch.  If they are Southern Indicas, that won't be a real concern, since they will tolerate more sun than most azaleas will.  Various other hybrids will work there just as well, if you plant them using the same care and allow for some shade during the afternoon.  It doesn't have to be solid shade at all, but there should be some overhead shade protection. 

          During the summer months, do not let the azaleas dry out completely in the hot weather.  Azaleas will take just about all the water you can give them SO LONG AS the water drains away from the roots about as fast as it comes in.  In the winter time, do the same thing, if there is a cold front coming in where wind is a factor.  Wind can desiccate an azalea in a hurry, so see to it that the root zone around each azalea has plenty of water during those times. 

          What to feed them?  Here's our suggestion: Buy some cottonseed meal at some good nursery.  How to feed them?  Put no more than a cupful of cottonseed meal around the base of each azalea and water it in gently.  It might be well to have the plant watered first before you do this and, then, just water it in gently after that.  When to feed them?  Here's our schedule: Easter, Fourth of July and Labor Day.  NO MORE THAN THAT!  Azaleas do not like too much feeding, so stick with an organic fertilizer like this and 1] you will not burn the plants because 2] cottonseed meal is a slow release fertilizer and 3] you will find that the azaleas will be very happy.  Too many people overfeed these plants and they do not like it!  Once the new growth has been put on, say, in late September to October, don't prune anything, since the flowers for the next season will come out on the new growth.  If you wish to prune an azalea, wait till shortly after they have bloomed and, then, be judicious. 

          San Diego water is notorious for being worse than the alkaline soil.  Ask them what the general pH of the water is during the summer and also during the winter.  I have an idea it may be pushing 8.0 which is like pouring gasoline on a fire.  Hence, my suggestion for the cottonseed meal.  I use it here all the time on that schedule above.  My soil is mostly decomposed granite which is porous and slightly acidic, so I'm okay there.  The pH of our water [most of which comes out of the San Gabriel Mountains] is about 6.5 during the summer months and closer to 7.0 during the winter.  We have probably 50 + azaleas out in the yard plus an equal number of vireya rhododendrons [lepidote] plus elepidote rhododendrons plus camellias and roses and clivia where it's too shady for anything else.  They are all fed by cottonseed meal at the times indicated above.  

          I would be interested to know how this all turns out.

          George E. Klump
          Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA     







          On 2/27/2012 5:16 PM, Terry Hinkley wrote:
           
          Hi:
           
          Will azaleas survive in hard clay alkaline soil in the heat of our San Diego, CA summer?  They're lovely now, but I'm afraid they can't take our hot summers.  Our patio gives off a lot of reflected heat and light.  We are semi-arid in our neighborhood, very hot and sunny and dry, and I'm afraid they will die.  What are their chances in hard alkaline clay soil, in hot dry temperatures with no acid amendments added to the soil when planted in the ground?
           
          Thank you for your replay.
           
          Sincerely,
          Terry
           
           
          Terry Tucker Hinkley
          4127 38th St. #2
          San Diego CA 92105-1365
          Phone 6192836223
          Spouse Cell Phone 6197234558
          Email Addresses:
           



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