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Re: [AZ] potting mix

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  • George Klump
    ... 2 May 2013 Hi, Glen, You live in an area with clay soil generally. To offset that problem I would suggest a mixture we have worked with for some 40 years
    Message 1 of 2 , May 2, 2013
      On 5/2/2013 8:27 AM, Glen Scheid wrote:
      [AZ] potting mix
      Glen Scheid <scheidglen@...>
      5/2/2013 7:00 AM


      this is from your ask us page. Getting ready to plant some new azaleas in a bed. Need to know a mix to plant them in to help with success in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area.

      2 May 2013

      Hi, Glen,

      You live in an area with clay soil generally.  To offset that problem I would suggest a mixture we have worked with for some 40 years which has proved to be successful.  We use a mixture of coarse peat moss, i.e. the chunky kind, perlite and shredded redwood bark in equal parts of 1 - 1 - 1 by volume.  Granting that shredded redwood bark may not be available there, orchid bark [which is generally Douglas fir] may be substituted so that the formula is 1 - 1 - 2 or any other good shredded bark.

      If the container in which the azalea is presently is maybe 6 inches in diameter, then, we suggest making the hole in the soil about 18 inches in diameter.  If the container is 6 inches deep, then, we suggest making the hole just 8 inches deep.  Azalea roots will spread out horizontally, not vertically, so they will need the room just like roses and camellias do.  The little feeder roots must be able to move out away from the plant and they must have water soluble nutrients in order to feed the azalea.  The mixture suggested will create a pH on the acidic side which will permit the little roots to do just that. 

      We fill the hole about 2/3's of the way with the mixture and, then, take the hose and soak it till it becomes a 'soup'.  Then, we put the azalea on top of that. . . .having blown off a lot of the soil from the plant, maybe 60% or 70%, so that it is in effect almost bareroot.  We set it on the mixture making sure that the little feeder roots are pulled out away from the plant and, then, fill it the rest of the way with the mixture up to about an inch below the crown of the azalea.  Then, we load the whole thing up with water again and walk away.

      Where you are located, you likely would get a freeze in November.  We feed our plants just three times annually, Easter, Fourth of July and Labor Day, and use cottonseed meal, since it is slow to release its nutrients and does not burn the azaleas.  We put about a cupful around each plant and water that in gently.  It helps, too, if the soil is wet first, when this is done.  If you are in danger of a hard freeze at Easter, just wait till that time passes, when Easter comes really early.  The same for Labor Day, just back it up to the middle of August.  However, I do not really believe this would be a problem for you in Tulsa and that Labor Day itself would work alright.  The main thing to consider is rapid drainage of water away from the root zone.  Azaleas generally will take all the water they receive SO LONG AS it drains away from the root zone about as fast as it comes in.  Azaleas will take a moist soil, but the roots will not tolerate sitting in water.  Which reminds me that during your winters, when you can get plenty of cold wind blowing, it would be well to make sure that the root zones of your plants have plenty of water in them, i.e. go out and water them thoroughly before the cold wind hits.  That will keep the roots warmer and prevent the dessication of the plants. 

      George E. Klump
      Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA  

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