Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot

Expand Messages
  • George Klump
    Gentlemen, As you both see below, a 5-acre plot of deciduous azaleas is being taken care of by bureaucratic fiat. I responded to a personal e-mail from
    Message 1 of 17 , Mar 8, 2013
    • 0 Attachment
      Gentlemen,

      As you both see below, a 5-acre plot of deciduous azaleas is being taken care of by bureaucratic fiat.  I responded to a personal e-mail from Kimberly Knox suggesting that, according to her description of the soil in which these azaleas are planted [pH c.7.0 or higher] and what the University Extension "soil scientist" said, I would expect real difficulty with the surviving plants before three years are up. 

      Further, I augmented what Harold said about sulphur and suggested that the "soil scientist" evidently had no practical background with plants in general, since, other than desert conditions which are special, I knew of no plants of any kind which would grow well at all in an alkaline soil.  Therefore in her situation soil sulphur was absolutely necessary probably twice annually, if they expected to see these plants survive.

      George E. Klump
      Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA








      On 3/8/2013 11:33 AM, bill butts wrote:
       
      This is curious. Where I live a large percentage of people have wells, and one of the minerals in the water is sulfur. I don't see how the sulfur will reach the drinking water, if you are applying small amounts at each plant.



      From: Harold Greer <hgreer@...>
      To: azaleas@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Friday, March 8, 2013 1:56 PM
      Subject: RE: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot

       
      I think the extension person  is wrong about not needing sulfur and it won’t hurt drinking water.  Are you say an “order” or “odor” problem?
       
      From: azaleas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:azaleas@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Knox, Kimberley
      Sent: Friday, March 08, 2013 7:14 AM
      To: George Klump; azaleas@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
       
       
      Thank you, Mr. Klump.
       
      Since sulfur provides an order problem with drinking water, we can’t use sulfur right next to the reservoir.  I did talk with one of soil scientists at our University Extension service and she said that as long as we applied the pine needles over a couple of years, she said that we didn’t need sulfur.
       
      Thank you again for your email.
       

      From: George Klump [mailto:mixturev@...]
      Sent: Thursday, March 07, 2013 1:00 PM
      To: Knox, Kimberley; azaleas@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
      Importance: Low
       
      7 March 2013

      Kimberly,

      I would agree with Harold.  Here is what he wrote: Harold Greer wrote: "You still need to add some sulfur and there is no reason it should pollute any drinking water supply."

      Soil sulphur is not going to contaminate anything, but it will acidify the soil for about six months at a time, though it is a bit slower acting than is ammonium sulphate.  However, the latter will not last nearly as long as the soil sulphur will. 

      The issue to be faced here is simple.  The soil in which these 200 deciduous azaleas were planted is nearly basic as you have said here. 
      Hi, I work for a government agency that has a five acre azalea garden. In the fall of 2011, we planted 200 deciduous azaleas.  A number of the azaleas didn’t make it.  When I did a soil test, the soil’s pH was almost basic.   Since the azaleas are next to a drinking water reservoir, I can’t put any chemicals on the azaleas to lower the pH.   How effective would be using pine needles for mulch?
       
      (We couldn’t afford pine mulch.  But we have plenty of pine needles from trees on our landscaped areas near several of our office buildings.)


      So the real question here is going to be something like this: Do you want the flowers or not?  If you do, then, this is what you must do.  Skip the government malarky and do what needs to be done here for the azaleas to be successful.  They work perfectly well in acidic soil without government interference.  If the soil pH is on the order of 7.5, you have no choice.  The soil will simply have to be acidified, else the money for the plants has been wasted completely. 

      As Harold suggested early in the game here, some soil sulphur is going to have to be put around the plants, else you will have nothing but trouble with them.  The soil sulphur is not going to move away from the plants and it certainly will not contaminate the water reservoir.  Along with the soil sulphur you might consider using a good spaghnum peat moss, the chunky kind, not the finely milled kind, putting it over the sulphur.  It can be worked gently into the soil, if you wish.  Tadeusz gave you a good suggestion there.  I would follow what both have suggested: 1] soil sulphur first, with 2] a good spaghnum peat moss over it.  Beyond that there is nothing else to do.

      Oh, if the soil is basic in effect, it may not drain very well, since it may be a clay type of soil.  Gypsum [calcium sulphate] spread liberally maybe in the spring and fall each year will break up the soil and provide the needed water drainage for the azaleas to prevent root rot from getting started.  It will not change the soil pH at all, but will affect the porosity of it favorably.  Phytophthora [root rot] is arguably the most dangerous single plant disease worldwide.  Poor water drainage is a major factor in getting this started where the rhododendron family is concerned and azaleas are a genre of that family.  You might want to look to that aspect, too.

      George E. Klump
      Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA  
       







    • Ron Rabideau
      Dear azalea group, This has nothing to do with George s comments, but I need to make a heretical comment and make something clear. It is often said that pine
      Message 2 of 17 , Mar 9, 2013
      • 0 Attachment
        Dear azalea group,

        This has nothing to do with George's comments, but I need to make a
        heretical comment and make something clear. It is often said that pine
        needles and other acidic mulches will lower the pH of soils. There is no
        scientific evidence of this! It is another one of those gardening myths
        that is passed around and around and around without anyone actually
        looking at the scientific evidence. Here is one study for example:
        http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_115=223401
        There are others if one does some research.
        I have emails in to a couple experts in this field for further info.

        There is the possibility that in extremely sandy soils that have little to
        no buffering capacity organic acidic mulches and amendments could lower
        pH, but in general, no. In fact, some studies show just the opposite, that
        over time, these mulches can slightly raise the pH.

        Now, there are many other benefits to using these mulches for our plants
        but I'm keeping this strictly to their affect on pH.

        Ron Rabideau

        On Fri, 08 Mar 2013 17:02:49 -0500, George Klump <mixturev@...>
        wrote:

        > Gentlemen,
        >
        > As you both see below, a 5-acre plot of deciduous azaleas is being taken
        > care of by bureaucratic fiat. I responded to a personal e-mail from
        > Kimberly Knox suggesting that, according to her description of the soil
        > in which these azaleas are planted [pH c.7.0 or higher] and what the
        > University Extension "soil scientist" said, I would expect real
        > difficulty with the surviving plants before three years are up.
        >
        > Further, I augmented what Harold said about sulphur and suggested that
        > the "soil scientist" evidently had no practical background with plants
        > in general, since, other than desert conditions which are special, I
        > knew of no plants of any kind which would grow well at all in an
        > alkaline soil. Therefore in her situation soil sulphur was absolutely
        > necessary probably twice annually, if they expected to see these plants
        > survive.
        >
        > George E. Klump
        > Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > On 3/8/2013 11:33 AM, bill butts wrote:
        >> This is curious. Where I live a large percentage of people have wells,
        >> and one of the minerals in the water is sulfur. I don't see how the
        >> sulfur will reach the drinking water, if you are applying small
        >> amounts at each plant.
        >>
        >>
        >> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        >> *From:* Harold Greer <hgreer@...>
        >> *To:* azaleas@yahoogroups.com
        >> *Sent:* Friday, March 8, 2013 1:56 PM
        >> *Subject:* RE: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
        >>
        >> I think the extension person is wrong about not needing sulfur and it
        >> won’t hurt drinking water. Are you say an “order” or “odor” problem?
        >> *From:*azaleas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:azaleas@yahoogroups.com] *On
        >> Behalf Of *Knox, Kimberley
        >> *Sent:* Friday, March 08, 2013 7:14 AM
        >> *To:* George Klump; azaleas@yahoogroups.com
        >> *Subject:* [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
        >> Thank you, Mr. Klump.
        >> Since sulfur provides an order problem with drinking water, we can’t
        >> use sulfur right next to the reservoir. I did talk with one of soil
        >> scientists at our University Extension service and she said that as
        >> long as we applied the pine needles over a couple of years, she said
        >> that we didn’t need sulfur.
        >> Thank you again for your email.
        >> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        >> *From:*George Klump [mailto:mixturev@...]
        >> *Sent:* Thursday, March 07, 2013 1:00 PM
        >> *To:* Knox, Kimberley; azaleas@yahoogroups.com
        >> <mailto:azaleas@yahoogroups.com>
        >> *Subject:* Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
        >> *Importance:* Low
        >> 7 March 2013
        >>
        >> Kimberly,
        >>
        >> I would agree with Harold. Here is what he wrote: Harold Greer wrote:
        >> "You still need to add some sulfur and there is no reason it should
        >> pollute any drinking water supply."
        >>
        >> Soil sulphur is not going to contaminate anything, but it will acidify
        >> the soil for about six months at a time, though it is a bit slower
        >> acting than is ammonium sulphate. However, the latter will not last
        >> nearly as long as the soil sulphur will.
        >>
        >> The issue to be faced here is simple. The soil in which these 200
        >> deciduous azaleas were planted is nearly basic as you have said here.
        >> Hi, I work for a government agency that has a five acre azalea garden.
        >> In the fall of 2011, we planted 200 deciduous azaleas. A number of
        >> the azaleas didn’t make it. When I did a soil test, the soil’s pH was
        >> almost basic. Since the azaleas are next to a drinking water
        >> reservoir, I can’t put any chemicals on the azaleas to lower the pH.
        >> How effective would be using pine needles for mulch?
        >> (We couldn’t afford pine mulch. But we have plenty of pine needles
        >> from trees on our landscaped areas near several of our office
        >> buildings.)
        >>
        >>
        >> So the real question here is going to be something like this: Do you
        >> want the flowers or not? If you do, then, this is what you must do.
        >> Skip the government malarky and do what needs to be done here for the
        >> azaleas to be successful. They work perfectly well in acidic soil
        >> without government interference. If the soil pH is on the order of
        >> 7.5, you have no choice. The soil will simply have to be acidified,
        >> else the money for the plants has been wasted completely.
        >>
        >> As Harold suggested early in the game here, some soil sulphur is going
        >> to _have_ to be put around the plants, else you will have nothing but
        >> trouble with them. The soil sulphur is not going to move away from
        >> the plants and it certainly will not contaminate the water reservoir.
        >> Along with the soil sulphur you might consider using a good spaghnum
        >> peat moss, the chunky kind, not the finely milled kind, putting it
        >> over the sulphur. It can be worked gently into the soil, if you
        >> wish. Tadeusz gave you a good suggestion there. I would follow what
        >> both have suggested: 1] soil sulphur first, with 2] a good spaghnum
        >> peat moss over it. Beyond that there is nothing else to do.
        >>
        >> Oh, if the soil is basic in effect, it may not drain very well, since
        >> it may be a clay type of soil. Gypsum [calcium sulphate] spread
        >> liberally maybe in the spring and fall each year will break up the
        >> soil and provide the needed water drainage for the azaleas to prevent
        >> root rot from getting started. It will not change the soil pH at all,
        >> but will affect the porosity of it favorably. Phytophthora [root rot]
        >> is arguably the most dangerous single plant disease worldwide. Poor
        >> water drainage is a major factor in getting this started where the
        >> rhododendron family is concerned and azaleas are a genre of that
        >> family. You might want to look to that aspect, too.
        >>
        >> George E. Klump
        >> Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >>
        >


        --
        Ron Rabideau
        Camden, NJ
        Zone 7b
      • John Migas
        Kimberly and all,   Here in Michigan I grow nursery stock plants in a 50+ year old pine forest planted in the 1940 s by the government WPA. Prior to planting
        Message 3 of 17 , Mar 9, 2013
        Kimberly and all,
         
        Here in Michigan I grow nursery stock plants in a 50+ year old pine forest planted in the
        1940's by the government WPA. Prior to planting it was a sand dune, pure sand. The reason for the planting was to keep the winter winds from blowing the sand onto the homes along the river. This particular bed of red pine trees covers an area of about
        11 acres.
         
        I have never added any amendments prior to planting or have I ever fertilized these beds. I did test the soil years ago and the PH was around 6. The only added material
        to these fields are the annual drop of pine needles, PERIOD. The county extension, hosted by Michigan State Univ. did suggest adding sulfur through an injection system if
        I wanted to go through the expense. I'm located within a quarter of a mile from the Kalamazoo river and all of the homes are on wells. No harm was ever mentioned using
        sulfur.
         
        The group has offered excellent advice and I would follow up on suggestions by your
        county co-op for advice. They can test and evaluate your situation much better than we can. I included a few photos of the azaleas growing in the pines.
         
        Good luck............John Migas(Michigan)

        From: Ron Rabideau <rhodyrex@...>
        To: azaleas@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Saturday, March 9, 2013 11:19 AM
        Subject: Re: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
         
        Dear azalea group, This has nothing to do with George's comments, but I need to make a heretical comment and make something clear. It is often said that pine needles and other acidic mulches will lower the pH of soils. There is no scientific evidence of this! It is another one of those gardening myths that is passed around and around and around without anyone actually looking at the scientific evidence. Here is one study for example: http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_115=223401 There are others if one does some research. I have emails in to a couple experts in this field for further info. There is the possibility that in extremely sandy soils that have little to no buffering capacity organic acidic mulches and amendments could lower pH, but in general, no. In fact, some studies show just the opposite, that over time, these mulches can slightly raise the pH. Now, there are many other benefits to using these mulches for our plants but I'm keeping this strictly to their affect on pH. Ron Rabideau On Fri, 08 Mar 2013 17:02:49 -0500, George Klump <mailto:mixturev%40pacbell.net> wrote:
        > Gentlemen, > > As you both see below, a 5-acre plot of deciduous azaleas is being taken > care of by bureaucratic fiat. I responded to a personal e-mail from > Kimberly Knox suggesting that, according to her description of the soil > in which these azaleas are planted [pH c.7.0 or higher] and what the > University Extension "soil scientist" said, I would expect real > difficulty with the surviving plants before three years are up. > > Further, I augmented what Harold said about sulphur and suggested that > the "soil scientist" evidently had no practical background with plants > in general, since, other than desert conditions which are special, I > knew of no plants of any kind which would grow well at all in an > alkaline soil. Therefore in her situation soil sulphur was absolutely > necessary probably twice annually, if they expected to see these plants > survive. > > George E. Klump > Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA > > > > > > > > > On 3/8/2013 11:33 AM, bill butts wrote: >> This is curious. Where I live a large percentage of people have wells, >> and one of the minerals in the water is sulfur. I don't see how the >> sulfur will reach the drinking water, if you are applying small >> amounts at each plant. >> >> >> ---------------------------------------------------------- >> *From:* Harold Greer <mailto:hgreer%40greergardens.com> >> *To:* mailto:azaleas%40yahoogroups.com >> *Sent:* Friday, March 8, 2013 1:56 PM >> *Subject:* RE: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot >> >> I think the extension person is wrong about not needing sulfur and it >> won’t hurt drinking water. Are you say an “order” or “odor” problem? >> *From:mailto:%2Aazaleas%40yahoogroups.com [mailto:mailto:azaleas%40yahoogroups.com] *On >> Behalf Of *Knox, Kimberley >> *Sent:* Friday, March 08, 2013 7:14 AM >> *To:* George Klump; mailto:azaleas%40yahoogroups.com >> *Subject:* [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot >> Thank you, Mr. Klump. >> Since sulfur provides an order problem with drinking water, we can’t >> use sulfur right next to the reservoir. I did talk with one of soil >> scientists at our University Extension service and she said that as >> long as we applied the pine needles over a couple of years, she said >> that we didn’t need sulfur. >> Thank you again for your email. >> ---------------------------------------------------------- >> *From:*George Klump [mailto:mailto:mixturev%40pacbell.net] >> *Sent:* Thursday, March 07, 2013 1:00 PM >> *To:* Knox, Kimberley; mailto:azaleas%40yahoogroups.com >> <mailto:mailto:azaleas%40yahoogroups.com> >> *Subject:* Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot >> *Importance:* Low >> 7 March 2013 >> >> Kimberly, >> >> I would agree with Harold. Here is what he wrote: Harold Greer wrote: >> "You still need to add some sulfur and there is no reason it should >> pollute any drinking water supply." >> >> Soil sulphur is not going to contaminate anything, but it will acidify >> the soil for about six months at a time, though it is a bit slower >> acting than is ammonium sulphate. However, the latter will not last >> nearly as long as the soil sulphur will. >> >> The issue to be faced here is simple. The soil in which these 200 >> deciduous azaleas were planted is nearly basic as you have said here. >> Hi, I work for a government agency that has a five acre azalea garden. >> In the fall of 2011, we planted 200 deciduous azaleas. A number of >> the azaleas didn’t make it. When I did a soil test, the soil’s pH was >> almost basic. Since the azaleas are next to a drinking water >> reservoir, I can’t put any chemicals on the azaleas to lower the pH. >> How effective would be using pine needles for mulch? >> (We couldn’t afford pine mulch. But we have plenty of pine needles >> from trees on our landscaped areas near several of our office >> buildings.) >> >> >> So the real question here is going to be something like this: Do you >> want the flowers or not? If you do, then, this is what you must do. >> Skip the government malarky and do what needs to be done here for the >> azaleas to be successful. They work perfectly well in acidic soil >> without government interference. If the soil pH is on the order of >> 7.5, you have no choice. The soil will simply have to be acidified, >> else the money for the plants has been wasted completely. >> >> As Harold suggested early in the game here, some soil sulphur is going >> to _have_ to be put around the plants, else you will have nothing but >> trouble with them. The soil sulphur is not going to move away from >> the plants and it certainly will not contaminate the water reservoir. >> Along with the soil sulphur you might consider using a good spaghnum >> peat moss, the chunky kind, not the finely milled kind, putting it >> over the sulphur. It can be worked gently into the soil, if you >> wish. Tadeusz gave you a good suggestion there. I would follow what >> both have suggested: 1] soil sulphur first, with 2] a good spaghnum >> peat moss over it. Beyond that there is nothing else to do. >> >> Oh, if the soil is basic in effect, it may not drain very well, since >> it may be a clay type of soil. Gypsum [calcium sulphate] spread >> liberally maybe in the spring and fall each year will break up the >> soil and provide the needed water drainage for the azaleas to prevent >> root rot from getting started. It will not change the soil pH at all, >> but will affect the porosity of it favorably. Phytophthora [root rot] >> is arguably the most dangerous single plant disease worldwide. Poor >> water drainage is a major factor in getting this started where the >> rhododendron family is concerned and azaleas are a genre of that >> family. You might want to look to that aspect, too. >> >> George E. Klump >> Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA >> >> >> >> >> >> >> >> >
        -- Ron Rabideau Camden, NJ Zone 7b
      • Steve Henning
        Hi Ron, I have done quite a bit of searching in the literature for information on this. I don t think there is any doubt the some mulches are acidic. For
        Message 4 of 17 , Mar 10, 2013
        • 0 Attachment
          Hi Ron,

          I have done quite a bit of searching in the literature for information on this.  I don't think there is any doubt the some mulches are acidic.  For example, the leaves of some trees, including beech, oak and pine needles, fall in the 4.3 to 5.5 pH range, making them highly acidic.  However, the problem occurs when these materials decompose.  The mulch looses its acidic character when it decomposes.  Oak leaves even becomes alkaline when they decompose.  Hence, materials such as sphagnum moss provide more acidity since they decompose more slowly.

          I also noted that the needles, bark or wood of softwoods (conifers like pine, fir, spruce, redwood, and hemock) are acidic and make good mulch and are less likely to become alkaline when they decompose.  Since the acidity vanishes when these materials decompose, they are not suitable for solving a high pH problem.  Elemental sulfur is the best solution for that.  However, these acidic materials are much better than most other organic mulches that actually raise the pH.

          As a side note, you can't believe everything that comes out of extension services.  Some are still publishing that aluminum sulfate is recommended to adjust the pH for rhododendrons.  It was known even in 1955 that this was a bad idea.  Guy Nearing wrote an article in the October 1955 Journal of the ARS  entitled "Rhododendrons are Vanishing" which stated ""Aluminum sulphate is a deadly poison to rhododendrons and other ericaceous plants, and should be used with extreme caution, as the lethal dose is not known."

          References on mulches and their effect on pH:







          Steve Henning, Zone 6, Reading, PA  USA

          --- In azaleas@yahoogroups.com, "Ron Rabideau" <rhodyrex@...> wrote:
          >
          > Dear azalea group,
          >
          > This has nothing to do with George's comments, but I need to make a
          > heretical comment and make something clear. It is often said that pine
          > needles and other acidic mulches will lower the pH of soils. There is no
          > scientific evidence of this! It is another one of those gardening myths
          > that is passed around and around and around without anyone actually
          > looking at the scientific evidence. Here is one study for example:
          > http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_115=223401
          > There are others if one does some research.
          > I have emails in to a couple experts in this field for further info.
          >
          > There is the possibility that in extremely sandy soils that have little to
          > no buffering capacity organic acidic mulches and amendments could lower
          > pH, but in general, no. In fact, some studies show just the opposite, that
          > over time, these mulches can slightly raise the pH.
          >
          > Now, there are many other benefits to using these mulches for our plants
          > but I'm keeping this strictly to their affect on pH.
          >
          > Ron Rabideau
          >
          > On Fri, 08 Mar 2013 17:02:49 -0500, George Klump mixturev@...
          > wrote:
          >
          > > Gentlemen,
          > >
          > > As you both see below, a 5-acre plot of deciduous azaleas is being taken
          > > care of by bureaucratic fiat. I responded to a personal e-mail from
          > > Kimberly Knox suggesting that, according to her description of the soil
          > > in which these azaleas are planted [pH c.7.0 or higher] and what the
          > > University Extension "soil scientist" said, I would expect real
          > > difficulty with the surviving plants before three years are up.
          > >
          > > Further, I augmented what Harold said about sulphur and suggested that
          > > the "soil scientist" evidently had no practical background with plants
          > > in general, since, other than desert conditions which are special, I
          > > knew of no plants of any kind which would grow well at all in an
          > > alkaline soil. Therefore in her situation soil sulphur was absolutely
          > > necessary probably twice annually, if they expected to see these plants
          > > survive.
          > >
          > > George E. Klump
          > > Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > >
          > > On 3/8/2013 11:33 AM, bill butts wrote:
          > >> This is curious. Where I live a large percentage of people have wells,
          > >> and one of the minerals in the water is sulfur. I don't see how the
          > >> sulfur will reach the drinking water, if you are applying small
          > >> amounts at each plant.
          > >>
          > >>
          > >> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
          > >> *From:* Harold Greer hgreer@...
          > >> *To:* azaleas@yahoogroups.com
          > >> *Sent:* Friday, March 8, 2013 1:56 PM
          > >> *Subject:* RE: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
          > >>
          > >> I think the extension person is wrong about not needing sulfur and it
          > >> won’t hurt drinking water. Are you say an “order” or “odor” problem?
          > >> *From:*azaleas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:azaleas@yahoogroups.com] *On
          > >> Behalf Of *Knox, Kimberley
          > >> *Sent:* Friday, March 08, 2013 7:14 AM
          > >> *To:* George Klump; azaleas@yahoogroups.com
          > >> *Subject:* [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
          > >> Thank you, Mr. Klump.
          > >> Since sulfur provides an order problem with drinking water, we can’t
          > >> use sulfur right next to the reservoir. I did talk with one of soil
          > >> scientists at our University Extension service and she said that as
          > >> long as we applied the pine needles over a couple of years, she said
          > >> that we didn’t need sulfur.
          > >> Thank you again for your email.
          > >> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
          > >> *From:*George Klump [mailto:mixturev@...]
          > >> *Sent:* Thursday, March 07, 2013 1:00 PM
          > >> *To:* Knox, Kimberley; azaleas@yahoogroups.com
          > >> <mailto:azaleas@yahoogroups.com
          > >> *Subject:* Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
          > >> *Importance:* Low
          > >> 7 March 2013
          > >>
          > >> Kimberly,
          > >>
          > >> I would agree with Harold. Here is what he wrote: Harold Greer wrote:
          > >> "You still need to add some sulfur and there is no reason it should
          > >> pollute any drinking water supply."
          > >>
          > >> Soil sulphur is not going to contaminate anything, but it will acidify
          > >> the soil for about six months at a time, though it is a bit slower
          > >> acting than is ammonium sulphate. However, the latter will not last
          > >> nearly as long as the soil sulphur will.
          > >>
          > >> The issue to be faced here is simple. The soil in which these 200
          > >> deciduous azaleas were planted is nearly basic as you have said here.
          > >> Hi, I work for a government agency that has a five acre azalea garden.
          > >> In the fall of 2011, we planted 200 deciduous azaleas. A number of
          > >> the azaleas didn’t make it. When I did a soil test, the soil’s pH was
          > >> almost basic. Since the azaleas are next to a drinking water
          > >> reservoir, I can’t put any chemicals on the azaleas to lower the pH.
          > >> How effective would be using pine needles for mulch?
          > >> (We couldn’t afford pine mulch. But we have plenty of pine needles
          > >> from trees on our landscaped areas near several of our office
          > >> buildings.)
          > >>
          > >>
          > >> So the real question here is going to be something like this: Do you
          > >> want the flowers or not? If you do, then, this is what you must do.
          > >> Skip the government malarky and do what needs to be done here for the
          > >> azaleas to be successful. They work perfectly well in acidic soil
          > >> without government interference. If the soil pH is on the order of
          > >> 7.5, you have no choice. The soil will simply have to be acidified,
          > >> else the money for the plants has been wasted completely.
          > >>
          > >> As Harold suggested early in the game here, some soil sulphur is going
          > >> to _have_ to be put around the plants, else you will have nothing but
          > >> trouble with them. The soil sulphur is not going to move away from
          > >> the plants and it certainly will not contaminate the water reservoir.
          > >> Along with the soil sulphur you might consider using a good spaghnum
          > >> peat moss, the chunky kind, not the finely milled kind, putting it
          > >> over the sulphur. It can be worked gently into the soil, if you
          > >> wish. Tadeusz gave you a good suggestion there. I would follow what
          > >> both have suggested: 1] soil sulphur first, with 2] a good spaghnum
          > >> peat moss over it. Beyond that there is nothing else to do.
          > >>
          > >> Oh, if the soil is basic in effect, it may not drain very well, since
          > >> it may be a clay type of soil. Gypsum [calcium sulphate] spread
          > >> liberally maybe in the spring and fall each year will break up the
          > >> soil and provide the needed water drainage for the azaleas to prevent
          > >> root rot from getting started. It will not change the soil pH at all,
          > >> but will affect the porosity of it favorably. Phytophthora [root rot]
          > >> is arguably the most dangerous single plant disease worldwide. Poor
          > >> water drainage is a major factor in getting this started where the
          > >> rhododendron family is concerned and azaleas are a genre of that
          > >> family. You might want to look to that aspect, too.
          > >>
          > >> George E. Klump
          > >> Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA
          > >>
          > >>
          > >>
          > >>
          > >>
          > >>
          > >>
          > >>
          > >
          >
          >
          > --
          > Ron Rabideau
          > Camden, NJ
          > Zone 7b
          >
        • Ron Rabideau
          Hi Steve, I m certainly not disputing that these materials are acidic and make great mulches, they do! My personal favorite is shredded red oak leaves. And if
          Message 5 of 17 , Mar 10, 2013
          Hi Steve,
          I'm certainly not disputing that these materials are acidic and make great
          mulches, they do! My personal favorite is shredded red oak leaves. And if
          you are planting in a media composed of these materials, yes there will be
          an effect on pH, but will disappear as the material decomposes. Since
          rhodies and azaleas grow most of their roots at the surface, it stands to
          reason that if one maintains a nice layer of fresh acidic organic mulch,
          the roots will be mostly in this material, at a good pH. As mulches,
          they do not change the pH of the soil below them.

          In a few places in the world Rhododendrons are found growing on high pH
          rocks and soils and it was a mystery as to how they could do this. I think
          there even was an article in a past ARS Journal that presented a study of
          this. The answer turned out to be they were living in the acidic organic
          layer atop the soils and that consistent rains prevented the upward
          wicking of high pH water back up to the root zone.

          I've long held that in soils rich in organic matter, pH is less relavent
          to the health of the plants. That is because chelation of nutrients in the
          organic matterials allow them to be available to the roots.
          This is a quote from the attached article:

          "Increased availability of micronutrients in mulched soils is thought to
          result from chelation of micronutrients by organic compounds released from
          decomposing mulch, rather than
          from effects of mulch on soil pH."

          and yes, not all extension services are created equal!

          Ron



          On Sun, 10 Mar 2013 09:34:39 -0500, Steve Henning <rhodyman@...>
          wrote:

          > Hi Ron,
          > I have done quite a bit of searching in the literature for information
          > on this. I don't think there is any doubt the some mulches are acidic.
          > For example, the leaves of some trees, including beech, oak and pine
          > needles, fall in the 4.3 to 5.5 pH range, making them highly acidic.
          > However, the problem occurs when these materials decompose. The mulch
          > looses its acidic character when it decomposes. Oak leaves even becomes
          > alkaline when they decompose. Hence, materials such as sphagnum moss
          > provide more acidity since they decompose more slowly.
          > I also noted that the needles, bark or wood of softwoods (conifers like
          > pine, fir, spruce, redwood, and hemock) are acidic and make good mulch
          > and are less likely to become alkaline when they decompose. Since the
          > acidity vanishes when these materials decompose, they are not suitable
          > for solving a high pH problem. Elemental sulfur is the best solution
          > for that. However, these acidic materials are much better than most
          > other organic mulches that actually raise the pH.
          > As a side note, you can't believe everything that comes out of extension
          > services. Some are still publishing that aluminum sulfate is
          > recommended to adjust the pH for rhododendrons. It was known even in
          > 1955 that this was a bad idea. Guy Nearing wrote an article in the
          > October 1955 Journal of the ARS
          > <http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JARS/v9n4/v9n4-nearing.htm>
          > entitled "Rhododendrons are Vanishing" which stated ""Aluminum sulphate
          > is a deadly poison to rhododendrons and other ericaceous plants, and
          > should be used with extreme caution, as the lethal dose is not known."
          > References on mulches and their effect on pH:
          > http://extension.oregonstate.edu/question-of-the-week/oak-mulch
          > <http://extension.oregonstate.edu/question-of-the-week/oak-mulch>
          > http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1083.html
          > <http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1083.html>
          > http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/vista/html_pubs/mulch/MULCH.html
          > <http://www.aces.uiuc.edu/vista/html_pubs/mulch/MULCH.html>
          > http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/other/compost_mulch/hgic160\
          > 4.html
          > <http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/other/compost_mulch/hgic16\
          > 04.html>
          > http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/mulch/toxicmulch.html
          > <http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/mulch/toxicmulch.html>
          >
          > Steve Henning, Zone 6, Reading, PA USA
          > --- In azaleas@yahoogroups.com, "Ron Rabideau" <rhodyrex@...> wrote:
          >>
          >> Dear azalea group,
          >>
          >> This has nothing to do with George's comments, but I need to make a
          >> heretical comment and make something clear. It is often said that pine
          >> needles and other acidic mulches will lower the pH of soils. There is
          > no
          >> scientific evidence of this! It is another one of those gardening
          > myths
          >> that is passed around and around and around without anyone actually
          >> looking at the scientific evidence. Here is one study for example:
          >>
          > http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_11\
          > 5=223401
          >> There are others if one does some research.
          >> I have emails in to a couple experts in this field for further info.
          >>
          >> There is the possibility that in extremely sandy soils that have
          > little to
          >> no buffering capacity organic acidic mulches and amendments could
          > lower
          >> pH, but in general, no. In fact, some studies show just the opposite,
          > that
          >> over time, these mulches can slightly raise the pH.
          >>
          >> Now, there are many other benefits to using these mulches for our
          > plants
          >> but I'm keeping this strictly to their affect on pH.
          >>
          >> Ron Rabideau
          >>
          >> On Fri, 08 Mar 2013 17:02:49 -0500, George Klump mixturev@...
          >> wrote:
          >>
          >> > Gentlemen,
          >> >
          >> > As you both see below, a 5-acre plot of deciduous azaleas is being
          > taken
          >> > care of by bureaucratic fiat. I responded to a personal e-mail from
          >> > Kimberly Knox suggesting that, according to her description of the
          > soil
          >> > in which these azaleas are planted [pH c.7.0 or higher] and what the
          >> > University Extension "soil scientist" said, I would expect real
          >> > difficulty with the surviving plants before three years are up.
          >> >
          >> > Further, I augmented what Harold said about sulphur and suggested
          > that
          >> > the "soil scientist" evidently had no practical background with
          > plants
          >> > in general, since, other than desert conditions which are special, I
          >> > knew of no plants of any kind which would grow well at all in an
          >> > alkaline soil. Therefore in her situation soil sulphur was
          > absolutely
          >> > necessary probably twice annually, if they expected to see these
          > plants
          >> > survive.
          >> >
          >> > George E. Klump
          >> > Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA
          >> >
          >> >
          >> >
          >> >
          >> >
          >> >
          >> >
          >> >
          >> > On 3/8/2013 11:33 AM, bill butts wrote:
          >> >> This is curious. Where I live a large percentage of people have
          > wells,
          >> >> and one of the minerals in the water is sulfur. I don't see how the
          >> >> sulfur will reach the drinking water, if you are applying small
          >> >> amounts at each plant.
          >> >>
          >> >>
          >> >>
          > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
          >> >> *From:* Harold Greer hgreer@...
          >> >> *To:* azaleas@yahoogroups.com
          >> >> *Sent:* Friday, March 8, 2013 1:56 PM
          >> >> *Subject:* RE: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
          >> >>
          >> >> I think the extension person is wrong about not needing sulfur and
          > it
          >> >> won’t hurt drinking water. Are you say an
          > “order� or “odor� problem?
          >> >> *From:*azaleas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:azaleas@yahoogroups.com] *On
          >> >> Behalf Of *Knox, Kimberley
          >> >> *Sent:* Friday, March 08, 2013 7:14 AM
          >> >> *To:* George Klump; azaleas@yahoogroups.com
          >> >> *Subject:* [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
          >> >> Thank you, Mr. Klump.
          >> >> Since sulfur provides an order problem with drinking water, we
          > can’t
          >> >> use sulfur right next to the reservoir. I did talk with one of
          > soil
          >> >> scientists at our University Extension service and she said that as
          >> >> long as we applied the pine needles over a couple of years, she
          > said
          >> >> that we didn’t need sulfur.
          >> >> Thank you again for your email.
          >> >>
          > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
          >> >> *From:*George Klump [mailto:mixturev@...]
          >> >> *Sent:* Thursday, March 07, 2013 1:00 PM
          >> >> *To:* Knox, Kimberley; azaleas@yahoogroups.com
          >> >> <mailto:azaleas@yahoogroups.com
          >> >> *Subject:* Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
          >> >> *Importance:* Low
          >> >> 7 March 2013
          >> >>
          >> >> Kimberly,
          >> >>
          >> >> I would agree with Harold. Here is what he wrote: Harold Greer
          > wrote:
          >> >> "You still need to add some sulfur and there is no reason it should
          >> >> pollute any drinking water supply."
          >> >>
          >> >> Soil sulphur is not going to contaminate anything, but it will
          > acidify
          >> >> the soil for about six months at a time, though it is a bit slower
          >> >> acting than is ammonium sulphate. However, the latter will not
          > last
          >> >> nearly as long as the soil sulphur will.
          >> >>
          >> >> The issue to be faced here is simple. The soil in which these 200
          >> >> deciduous azaleas were planted is nearly basic as you have said
          > here.
          >> >> Hi, I work for a government agency that has a five acre azalea
          > garden.
          >> >> In the fall of 2011, we planted 200 deciduous azaleas. A number of
          >> >> the azaleas didn’t make it. When I did a soil test, the
          > soil’s pH was
          >> >> almost basic. Since the azaleas are next to a drinking water
          >> >> reservoir, I can’t put any chemicals on the azaleas to lower
          > the pH.
          >> >> How effective would be using pine needles for mulch?
          >> >> (We couldn’t afford pine mulch. But we have plenty of pine
          > needles
          >> >> from trees on our landscaped areas near several of our office
          >> >> buildings.)
          >> >>
          >> >>
          >> >> So the real question here is going to be something like this: Do
          > you
          >> >> want the flowers or not? If you do, then, this is what you must
          > do.
          >> >> Skip the government malarky and do what needs to be done here for
          > the
          >> >> azaleas to be successful. They work perfectly well in acidic soil
          >> >> without government interference. If the soil pH is on the order of
          >> >> 7.5, you have no choice. The soil will simply have to be
          > acidified,
          >> >> else the money for the plants has been wasted completely.
          >> >>
          >> >> As Harold suggested early in the game here, some soil sulphur is
          > going
          >> >> to _have_ to be put around the plants, else you will have nothing
          > but
          >> >> trouble with them. The soil sulphur is not going to move away from
          >> >> the plants and it certainly will not contaminate the water
          > reservoir.
          >> >> Along with the soil sulphur you might consider using a good
          > spaghnum
          >> >> peat moss, the chunky kind, not the finely milled kind, putting it
          >> >> over the sulphur. It can be worked gently into the soil, if you
          >> >> wish. Tadeusz gave you a good suggestion there. I would follow
          > what
          >> >> both have suggested: 1] soil sulphur first, with 2] a good spaghnum
          >> >> peat moss over it. Beyond that there is nothing else to do.
          >> >>
          >> >> Oh, if the soil is basic in effect, it may not drain very well,
          > since
          >> >> it may be a clay type of soil. Gypsum [calcium sulphate] spread
          >> >> liberally maybe in the spring and fall each year will break up the
          >> >> soil and provide the needed water drainage for the azaleas to
          > prevent
          >> >> root rot from getting started. It will not change the soil pH at
          > all,
          >> >> but will affect the porosity of it favorably. Phytophthora [root
          > rot]
          >> >> is arguably the most dangerous single plant disease worldwide.
          > Poor
          >> >> water drainage is a major factor in getting this started where the
          >> >> rhododendron family is concerned and azaleas are a genre of that
          >> >> family. You might want to look to that aspect, too.
          >> >>
          >> >> George E. Klump
          >> >> Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA
          >> >>
          >> >>
          >> >>
          >> >>
          >> >>
          >> >>
          >> >>
          >> >>
          >> >
          >>
          >>
          >> --
          >> Ron Rabideau
          >> Camden, NJ
          >> Zone 7b
          >>
          >


          --
          Ron Rabideau
          Camden, NJ
          Zone 7b
        • Larry Wallace
          Aluminum sulphate is a deadly poison to rhododendrons and other ericaceous plants ... Many nurseries here sell Al2 (SO4}3-6{H2O}. The bag recommends it for
          Message 6 of 17 , Mar 10, 2013
          • 0 Attachment
            "Aluminum sulphate is a deadly poison to rhododendrons and other ericaceous plants ..."

            Many nurseries here sell Al2 (SO4}3-6{H2O}.  The bag recommends it for Rhododendrons and Azaleas.  How do we stop it?

            --


            Larry Wallace
            Cincinnati

          • mike_threeshot
            Educates nurserymen. A good nursery place wouldn t even offer this for sale. ... From: Larry Wallace To: azaleas@yahoogroups.com Sent:
            Message 7 of 17 , Mar 10, 2013
            • 0 Attachment
              Educates nurserymen.  A good nursery place wouldn't even offer this for sale.


              From: "Larry Wallace" <UUallace@...>
              To: azaleas@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Sunday, March 10, 2013 12:20:36 PM
              Subject: Re: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot

               

              "Aluminum sulphate is a deadly poison to rhododendrons and other ericaceous plants ..."


              Many nurseries here sell Al2 (SO4}3-6{H2O}.  The bag recommends it for Rhododendrons and Azaleas.  How do we stop it?

              --


              Larry Wallace
              Cincinnati

            • George Klump
              10 March 2013 Dear Ron, You are quite right here, at least in my experience. That s why I suggested soil sulphur to this lady. While it is a bit slower than
              Message 8 of 17 , Mar 10, 2013
              • 0 Attachment
                10 March 2013

                Dear Ron,

                You are quite right here, at least in my experience.  That's why I suggested soil sulphur to this lady.  While it is a bit slower than ammonium sulphate, it lasts quite a lot longer as far as its acidifying capabilities are concerned.  However, to be safe with a soil which is apparently just over the alkaline line, I suggested the sulphur be applied twice annually.

                As far as pine needles and all of that is concerned, it may make a nice mulch, but in the long run does nothing to affect the pH of the soil.  Some years ago various nurseries out here had a humus for sale in 25 lb. and 50 lb. bags. . . .the perfect thing for one's flower bed.  What many of these nurseries probably did not know was that this humus was effectively neutral in pH in many cases and in some instances it was actually a tad alkaline.  We hit upon the chunky spaghnum peat moss, since it was acidic and would last indefinitely in our soil.  [Mine is basically decomposed granite.]  We also found that the addition of perlite tended to break up the more clay-type soils so that water could penetrate better as well as oxygen.  Then, we found that shredded redwood bark added to this mixture worked perfectly for a number of reasons, e.g. discouraging varmints from coming around eating the plants and/or attacking the roots, since redwood bark probably decomposes more slowly than any other wood of which we're aware.  And at the same time some of the enzymes it emits in the decomposition process tend to keep unwanted bugs away in droves.  So we developed our mixture on an equal parts basis, i.e. 1 - 1 - 1 by volume.  I've done this for years with all of my plants, e.g. camellias, bougainville, hibiscus, etc. and it has worked like a charm.  The hydrogen ion is therefore active in releasing whatever native nutrients are in the soil into a water soluble form the little feeder roots can use and all is well.

                Funny thing, too, about this mixture and I noted it yesterday at our meeting.  For some reason it has eliminated snails and slugs from my garden where that used to be an annual problem. 

                George E. Klump
                Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA   




                On 3/9/2013 8:19 AM, Ron Rabideau wrote:
                 

                Dear azalea group,

                This has nothing to do with George's comments, but I need to make a
                heretical comment and make something clear. It is often said that pine
                needles and other acidic mulches will lower the pH of soils. There is no
                scientific evidence of this! It is another one of those gardening myths
                that is passed around and around and around without anyone actually
                looking at the scientific evidence. Here is one study for example:
                http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/publications/publications.htm?seq_no_115=223401
                There are others if one does some research.
                I have emails in to a couple experts in this field for further info.

                There is the possibility that in extremely sandy soils that have little to
                no buffering capacity organic acidic mulches and amendments could lower
                pH, but in general, no. In fact, some studies show just the opposite, that
                over time, these mulches can slightly raise the pH.

                Now, there are many other benefits to using these mulches for our plants
                but I'm keeping this strictly to their affect on pH.

                Ron Rabideau

                On Fri, 08 Mar 2013 17:02:49 -0500, George Klump <mixturev@...>
                wrote:

                  Gentlemen,

                  As you both see below, a 5-acre plot of deciduous azaleas is being taken
                  care of by bureaucratic fiat. I responded to a personal e-mail from

                Kimberly Knox suggesting that, according to her description of the soil

                in which these azaleas are planted [pH c.7.0 or higher] and what the
                  University Extension "soil scientist" said, I would expect real
                  difficulty with the surviving plants before three years are up.

                  Further, I augmented what Harold said about sulphur and suggested that
                  the "soil scientist" evidently had no practical background with plants
                  in general, since, other than desert conditions which are special, I
                  knew of no plants of any kind which would grow well at all in an
                  alkaline soil. Therefore in her situation soil sulphur was absolutely
                  necessary probably twice annually, if they expected to see these plants
                  survive.

                  George E. Klump
                  Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA







                  On 3/8/2013 11:33 AM, bill butts wrote:
                  This is curious. Where I live a large percentage of people have wells,
                  and one of the minerals in the water is sulfur. I don't see how the
                  sulfur will reach the drinking water, if you are applying small
                  amounts at each plant.


                  ----------------------------------------------------------
                  *From:* Harold Greer <hgreer@...>
                  *To:* azaleas@yahoogroups.com
                  *Sent:* Friday, March 8, 2013 1:56 PM
                  *Subject:* RE: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot

                  I think the extension person is wrong about not needing sulfur and it
                  won’t hurt drinking water. Are you say an “order” or “odor” problem?
                  *From:*azaleas@yahoogroups.com [mailto:azaleas@yahoogroups.com] *On
                  Behalf Of *Knox, Kimberley
                  *Sent:* Friday, March 08, 2013 7:14 AM
                  *To:* George Klump; azaleas@yahoogroups.com
                  *Subject:* [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
                  Thank you, Mr. Klump.
                  Since sulfur provides an order problem with drinking water, we can’t
                  use sulfur right next to the reservoir. I did talk with one of soil
                  scientists at our University Extension service and she said that as
                  long as we applied the pine needles over a couple of years, she said
                  that we didn’t need sulfur.
                  Thank you again for your email.
                  ----------------------------------------------------------
                  *From:*George Klump [mailto:mixturev@...]
                  *Sent:* Thursday, March 07, 2013 1:00 PM
                  *To:* Knox, Kimberley; azaleas@yahoogroups.com
                  <mailto:azaleas@yahoogroups.com>
                  *Subject:* Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot
                  *Importance:* Low
                  7 March 2013

                  Kimberly,

                  I would agree with Harold. Here is what he wrote: Harold Greer wrote:
                  "You still need to add some sulfur and there is no reason it should
                  pollute any drinking water supply."

                  Soil sulphur is not going to contaminate anything, but it will acidify
                  the soil for about six months at a time, though it is a bit slower
                  acting than is ammonium sulphate. However, the latter will not last

                nearly as long as the soil sulphur will.

                  The issue to be faced here is simple. The soil in which these 200
                  deciduous azaleas were planted is nearly basic as you have said here.
                  Hi, I work for a government agency that has a five acre azalea garden.
                  In the fall of 2011, we planted 200 deciduous azaleas. A number of
                  the azaleas didn’t make it. When I did a soil test, the soil’s pH was
                  almost basic. Since the azaleas are next to a drinking water
                  reservoir, I can’t put any chemicals on the azaleas to lower the pH.
                  How effective would be using pine needles for mulch?
                  (We couldn’t afford pine mulch. But we have plenty of pine needles
                  from trees on our landscaped areas near several of our office
                  buildings.)

                  So the real question here is going to be something like this: Do you
                  want the flowers or not? If you do, then, this is what you must do.
                  Skip the government malarky and do what needs to be done here for the
                  azaleas to be successful. They work perfectly well in acidic soil
                  without government interference. If the soil pH is on the order of
                  7.5, you have no choice. The soil will simply have to be acidified,
                  else the money for the plants has been wasted completely.

                  As Harold suggested early in the game here, some soil sulphur is going
                  to _have_ to be put around the plants, else you will have nothing but
                  trouble with them. The soil sulphur is not going to move away from
                  the plants and it certainly will not contaminate the water reservoir.
                  Along with the soil sulphur you might consider using a good spaghnum
                  peat moss, the chunky kind, not the finely milled kind, putting it
                  over the sulphur. It can be worked gently into the soil, if you
                  wish. Tadeusz gave you a good suggestion there. I would follow wht
                  both have suggested: 1] soil sulphur first, with 2] a good spaghnum

                 peat moss over it. Beyond that there is nothing else to do.

                  Oh, if the soil is basic in effect, it may not drain very well, since
                  it may be a clay type of soil. Gypsum [calcium sulphate] spread
                  liberally maybe in the spring and fall each year will break up the
                  soil and provide the needed water drainage for the azaleas to prevent
                  root rot from getting started. It will not change the soil pH at all,
                  but will affect the porosity of it favorably. Phytophthora [root rot]
                  is arguably the most dangerous single plant disease worldwide. Poor
                  water drainage is a major factor in getting this started where the
                  rhododendron family is concerned and azaleas are a genre of that
                  family. You might want to look to that aspect, too.

                  George E. Klump
                  Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA










                --
                Ron Rabideau
                Camden, NJ
                Zone 7b


              • Steve Henning
                It would help if we could get extension services to stop recommending aluminum sulfate on everything and even warn against it. Then we could get the
                Message 9 of 17 , Mar 11, 2013
                • 0 Attachment
                  It would help if we could get extension services to stop recommending aluminum sulfate on everything and even warn against it.  Then we could get the manufacturers to push their other products and get nurseries to sell these and not aluminum sulfate. Here are some offending websites:


                  Sadly, only a few websites are trying to preach the gospel (don't use aluminum sulfate on anything besides hydrangeas):

                  ARS 

                  Yes, Colorado State has one website promoting aluminum sulfate and another warning against it.  Aluminum sulphate is good for hydrangeas since they need aluminum as well as acidity to be blue, so it does have a niche but that is all it is good for.

                  Steve Henning, Zone 6, Reading, PA

                  --- In azaleas@yahoogroups.com, michael.campbell3@... wrote:
                  >
                  > Educates nurserymen. A good nursery place wouldn't even offer this for sale. 
                  > ----- Original Message -----
                  > From: "Larry Wallace" <UUallace@...> 
                  > To: azaleas@yahoogroups.com 
                  > Sent: Sunday, March 10, 2013 12:20:36 PM 
                  > Subject: Re: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot 
                  > "Aluminum sulphate is a deadly poison to rhododendrons and other ericaceous plants ..." 
                  > Many nurseries here sell Al2 (SO4}3-6{H2O}. The bag recommends it for Rhododendrons and Azaleas. How do we stop it? 
                  > -- 
                  > Larry Wallace 
                  > Cincinnati
                  >

                • George Klump
                  I have some blue hydrangeas out in my back garden. Never use aluminum sulphate on anything, certainly not the hydrangeas. Cottonseed meal works perfectly and
                  Message 10 of 17 , Mar 11, 2013
                  • 0 Attachment
                    I have some blue hydrangeas out in my back garden.  Never use aluminum sulphate on anything, certainly not the hydrangeas.  Cottonseed meal works perfectly and they grow beautifully without me adding aluminum to their diet.  I don't think my hydrangeas know that they need aluminum to grow.  At least they've never mentioned it to me.

                    George E. Klump
                    Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA








                    On 3/11/2013 11:43 AM, Steve Henning wrote:
                     

                    It would help if we could get extension services to stop recommending aluminum sulfate on everything and even warn against it.  Then we could get the manufacturers to push their other products and get nurseries to sell these and not aluminum sulfate. Here are some offending websites:


                    Sadly, only a few websites are trying to preach the gospel (don't use aluminum sulfate on anything besides hydrangeas):

                    ARS 

                    Yes, Colorado State has one website promoting aluminum sulfate and another warning against it.  Aluminum sulphate is good for hydrangeas since they need aluminum as well as acidity to be blue, so it does have a niche but that is all it is good for.

                    Steve Henning, Zone 6, Reading, PA

                    --- In azaleas@yahoogroups.com, michael.campbell3@... wrote:
                    >
                    > Educates nurserymen. A good nursery place wouldn't even offer this for sale. 
                    > ----- Original Message -----
                    > From: "Larry Wallace" <UUallace@...> 
                    > Sent: Sunday, March 10, 2013 12:20:36 PM 
                    > Subject: Re: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot 
                    > "Aluminum sulphate i! s a deadly poison to rhododendrons and other ericaceous plants ..." 
                    > Many nurseries here sell Al2 (SO4}3-6{H2O}. The bag recommends it for Rhododendrons and Azaleas. How do we stop it? 
                    > -- 
                    > Larry Wallace 
                    > Cincinnati
                    >


                  • Bob Kelly
                    But, George, as I recall the French Hydrangea is maybe the one and only plant that needs aluminum ions to give the blue color. Usually acid soil has enough
                    Message 11 of 17 , Mar 12, 2013
                    • 0 Attachment
                      But, George, as I recall the French Hydrangea is maybe  the one and only plant that needs aluminum ions to give the blue color.  Usually acid soil has enough soluble aluminum to produce the blue color, but if in soil-less mix you probably have to add the actual Al+++ ion.
                       
                      Bob Kelly
                       
                       
                      ----- Original Message -----
                      Sent: Monday, March 11, 2013 1:57 PM
                      Subject: Re: [AZ] Extension Agents Still Promote Aluminum Sulfate on Everything

                       

                      I have some blue hydrangeas out in my back garden.  Never use aluminum sulphate on anything, certainly not the hydrangeas.  Cottonseed meal works perfectly and they grow beautifully without me adding aluminum to their diet.  I don't think my hydrangeas know that they need aluminum to grow.  At least they've never mentioned it to me.

                      George E. Klump
                      Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA








                      On 3/11/2013 11:43 AM, Steve Henning wrote:
                       

                      It would help if we could get extension services to stop recommending aluminum sulfate on everything and even warn against it.  Then we could get the manufacturers to push their other products and get nurseries to sell these and not aluminum sulfate. Here are some offending websites:


                      Sadly, only a few websites are trying to preach the gospel (don't use aluminum sulfate on anything besides hydrangeas):

                      ARS 

                      Yes, Colorado State has one website promoting aluminum sulfate and another warning against it.  Aluminum sulphate is good for hydrangeas since they need aluminum as well as acidity to be blue, so it does have a niche but that is all it is good for.

                      Steve Henning, Zone 6, Reading, PA

                      --- In azaleas@yahoogroups.com, michael.campbell3@... wrote:
                      >
                      > Educates nurserymen. A good nursery place wouldn't even offer this for sale. 
                      > ----- Original Message -----
                      > From: "Larry Wallace" <UUallace@...> 
                      > Sent: Sunday, March 10, 2013 12:20:36 PM 
                      > Subject: Re: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot 
                      > "Aluminum sulphate i! s a deadly poison to rhododendrons and other ericaceous plants ..." 
                      > Many nurseries here sell Al2 (SO4}3-6{H2O}. The bag recommends it for Rhododendrons and Azaleas. How do we stop it? 
                      > -- 
                      > Larry Wallace 
                      > Cincinnati
                      >


                    • Bob Kelly
                      But evidently you already knew that... Bob Kelly ... From: Bob Kelly To: azaleas@yahoogroups.com Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 9:04 AM Subject: Re: [AZ]
                      Message 12 of 17 , Mar 12, 2013
                      • 0 Attachment
                        But evidently you already knew that...
                         
                        Bob Kelly
                         
                         
                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: Bob Kelly
                        Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 9:04 AM
                        Subject: Re: [AZ] Extension Agents Still Promote Aluminum Sulfate on Everything

                         

                        But, George, as I recall the French Hydrangea is maybe  the one and only plant that needs aluminum ions to give the blue color.  Usually acid soil has enough soluble aluminum to produce the blue color, but if in soil-less mix you probably have to add the actual Al+++ ion.
                         
                        Bob Kelly
                         
                         
                        ----- Original Message -----
                        Sent: Monday, March 11, 2013 1:57 PM
                        Subject: Re: [AZ] Extension Agents Still Promote Aluminum Sulfate on Everything

                         

                        I have some blue hydrangeas out in my back garden.  Never use aluminum sulphate on anything, certainly not the hydrangeas.  Cottonseed meal works perfectly and they grow beautifully without me adding aluminum to their diet.  I don't think my hydrangeas know that they need aluminum to grow.  At least they've never mentioned it to me.

                        George E. Klump
                        Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA








                        On 3/11/2013 11:43 AM, Steve Henning wrote:
                         

                        It would help if we could get extension services to stop recommending aluminum sulfate on everything and even warn against it.  Then we could get the manufacturers to push their other products and get nurseries to sell these and not aluminum sulfate. Here are some offending websites:


                        Sadly, only a few websites are trying to preach the gospel (don't use aluminum sulfate on anything besides hydrangeas):

                        ARS 

                        Yes, Colorado State has one website promoting aluminum sulfate and another warning against it.  Aluminum sulphate is good for hydrangeas since they need aluminum as well as acidity to be blue, so it does have a niche but that is all it is good for.

                        Steve Henning, Zone 6, Reading, PA

                        --- In azaleas@yahoogroups.com, michael.campbell3@... wrote:
                        >
                        > Educates nurserymen. A good nursery place wouldn't even offer this for sale. 
                        > ----- Original Message -----
                        > From: "Larry Wallace" <UUallace@...> 
                        > Sent: Sunday, March 10, 2013 12:20:36 PM 
                        > Subject: Re: [AZ] RE: Deciduous Azaleas on Your 5-acre plot 
                        > "Aluminum sulphate i! s a deadly poison to rhododendrons and other ericaceous plants ..." 
                        > Many nurseries here sell Al2 (SO4}3-6{H2O}. The bag recommends it for Rhododendrons and Azaleas. How do we stop it? 
                        > -- 
                        > Larry Wallace 
                        > Cincinnati
                        >


                      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.