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

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  • 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 1 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 2 of 17 , Mar 10, 2013
      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 3 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 4 of 17 , Mar 10, 2013
        "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 5 of 17 , Mar 10, 2013
          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 6 of 17 , Mar 10, 2013
            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 7 of 17 , Mar 11, 2013
              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 8 of 17 , Mar 11, 2013
                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 9 of 17 , Mar 12, 2013
                  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 10 of 17 , Mar 12, 2013
                    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
                    >


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