Re: [AZ] Growing Azaleas in Houston, TX
- 31 January 2008Bill,The molasses idea here is a little crude but it can work. Rabbits are hardly a problem in Houston!!Here's a solution I used on occasion.1 pint Karo syrup (clear)1 pint water2 oz. seaweed fertilizer concentrate1 teaspoon boric acid (crystals or powder)I mix the Karo syrup and water first and, then, add the liquid seaweed fertilizer and boric acid. That's the stock solution. I use about 2 tablespoons per quart and spray the foliage until it is quite wet. Plants subject to mildew should be treated as roses, i.e. spray them in the morning so that they have plenty of daylight in which to dry.The seaweed fertilizer I use is something on the order of 0.40 - 0.20 - 0.30, usually a liquid seaweed from Norwegian Seaweed (ascophyllum nodosum). I began experimenting with this in 1981. Plants can be sprayed every month. The solution is absorbed by the leaves in about 5 to 6 hours. In about 3 hours, maybe 4, the leaves of my azaleas [and rhododendrons] are all pointing skyward!It increases the number of blooms on the plants, the size of them and the length of time the plant blooms. It saves the plant the work of photosynthesis, since this solution translocates to the roots rather quickly. Of course, one does not do this with a rainstorm moving in within the next hour.George KlumpSouthern California Chapter
The following Q&A was published in a Houston, TX newspaper. See if you have any thoughts about the advice. I'm really curious about the periodic molasses drench, and I would expect the alfalfa pellets to attract rabbits.
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Q. Which azaleas do well here? How do I plant and care for them?
-- T.L., Houston
A. There are dozens of azalea varieties for our area. The Southern Indicas are perhaps the easiest to grow here. Some long-grown varieties are purple-magenta 'Formosa,' pale lavender 'George L. Tabor,' pink 'Southern Charm' and white 'Mrs. G.G. Gerbing.'
Indicas become large plants, so keep size in mind while preparing your beds.
The Encore series of azaleas are increasingly popular as they flower for multiple months each year.
For success with any azalea:
-- Provide good drainage by building raised beds with loose, organically enriched soil.
-- Dig a hole for each plant twice the size of the root ball. Spread the roots over a small mound in the bottom of the hole. Tap the soil to eliminate air pockets that will cause the roots to dry out and die.
--Water and mulch. Azaleas like moisture, but their shallow roots don't like to stand in water. Keep the soil moist in summer.
-- Houston water is generally alkaline. Because azaleas prefer an acidic soil, you may need to sprinkle and water in powdered sulfur beneath the shrubs in September and February.
-- A 2-inch layer of pine needles or pine-bark mulch will help raise the acid levels.
-- Prune and fertilize azaleas after they bloom. Trim as much as one-third of the plant.
You can fertilize, once a month after they have bloomed until June 1, with an azalea-camellia fertilizer from your nursery.
Or sprinkle 2-3 cups of alfalfa pellets (3 percent to 8 percent nitrogen) beneath each shrub the last part of March. Allow the pellets to decompose.
Then apply a well-balanced, organic fertilizer about mid-April, once the alfalfa has broken down.
-- It's also beneficial to spray the shrubs and drench the soil every six to 10 weeks year-round with molasses, mixed at a rate of 1 ounce per gallon of water.
And spray liquid seaweed or Ocean Harvest, mixed with molasses at a rate of 1 ounce per gallon of water, March-September.