Re: [AZ] Need advice for growing azaleas in Oklahoma city area
- On 7/6/2013 11:05 AM, Ronald Schroeder wrote:
7 July 2013Subject:[AZ] Need advice for growing azaleas in Oklahoma city areaFrom:Ronald Schroeder <rdrc@...>Date:7/6/2013 7:32 AMTo:"email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>Do you have any advice for me for growing azaleas in the Oklahoma city area? Is it ok if they are mostly in the shade with some morning sun?Dorcas Schroeder
You should have no real trouble, if you 1] plant the right type of azaleas and 2] plant them properly in the soil you have there. Your idea about morning sun is a good one. Azaleas will love all the morning sun they can get. If they are shaded in the afternoon in your climate, that will be perfect.
Most of your soil there is clay and on the heavier side, if I recall correctly. A good azalea type for the area would be the Southern Indica. There are many different kinds and colors within that group. A good nursery there should be able to help you.
In the matter of planting, since your soil is on the heavy side, I would suggest this approach. Assuming the root ball of whatever azaleas you buy is about six inches in diameter and perhaps six inches in depth, I would suggest digging the hole for them about eighteen inches in diameter and maybe seven or eight inches in depth. This is because azalea roots will spread out horizontally, not vertically.
Then, get some coarse peat moss usually sold as spaghnum peat moss, some perlite and some shredded bark. Mix the peat and perlite together in equal parts by volume, i.e. 1 - 1, and double the volume of the shredded bark so that the total will be 1 - 1 - 2. Just "eyeball" it, since it does not have to be perfect. Fill the hole you have dug about 2/3rds of the way with the mixture and, then, take a hose and soak it till it becomes a 'soup'. Let it drain and, while it's draining, take the azalea itself, blow off some of the dirt from the root ball and set it in the middle of the hole on top of the mixture which has drained by this time. Then, fill the hole the rest of the way with the dry mixture just to about one inch below the crown of the plant, no higher than it was in the pot, and take the hose to it again. Then, walk away. Water them only as needed. DO NOT over water them! Azaleas will take about all the water you can give them SO LONG AS the water drains away from the root zone about as fast as it comes in. The roots will tolerate a damp soil, but they will not tolerate sitting in water.
After this get some cottonseed meal which is all you really need to feed them. My schedule for feeding my plants is Easter, Fourth of July and Labor Day. [That way I don't forget to do it!] More than this they do not need. Azaleas do not appreciate being overfed. Just put about a cupful around the drip line of each azalea and water that in gently. If you dampen the soil first before you do this, that will help. Cottonseed meal is a very slow release material and will not burn your plants. It also enhances the soil over time. It's also inexpensive.
During the winter do not let the azaleas dry out. You can get some fairly heavy cold winds during the winter, so when you know these are coming or that a temperature drop is coming along, take your hose and soak the root zone well. That will prevent the plants from desiccation by the winds. It will also keep the roots warmer.and protect them in the colder temperatures.
George E. Klump
Southern California Chapter, ARS/ASA