azealea, special care instructions

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by bobbygedd, Feb 13, 2003.

  1. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    i notice my azealeas are full heavy and beatiful(or was that my wife) ha ha, when i pick them up from the nursery. the only thing they do at the nursery is feed them twice a year with ozmecote, and water them every day. when we plant them, by the following season, they are sparse and thin. here are my thoughts for a maint program to keep them blooming nicely, and have healthy , full, shiny growth as well. please correct me if im wrong. in march feed them with a high phosphorus fert, maybe 5-60-5, for good blooming. after blooming, cut back, and feed with a high nitro fert, to encourage leaf growth, maybe a 25-5-10? keep p.h. at 5.5 using peat moss. am i on the right track? any help?
     
  2. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,622

    Azaleas like acidic soil, we use Holly Tone twice a year. Also, make sure you only trim them immediately after they flower, otherwise , if you wait too long you will be removing next years blooms.
     
  3. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,074

    I think you should find out if the soil's pH is acidic enough for the azaleas because they prefer acidic soil. A pH above 6.5 reduces the availability of iron, which can cause the leave to become yellow.
    Now if you do know for sure, then yes a pH of 5.5 is good.

    I also don't think azaleas ahould be cut back after blooming each year. I prune only stray or awkard branches from the plant if necessary. THey shouldn't need major pruning each year.
    I prefer the natural look and hate to see azaleas cut into boxes.
     
  4. KenH

    KenH LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Posts: 1,622

    Wow Jodi, that is some great advice!!:D :D :D
     
  5. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Senior Moderator
    Posts: 6,074

    LOL
    Yeah, I guess I was typing it up while you had already submitted your post. Oh well.
     
  6. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,218

    Bob- You didn't mention where you are planting these. Azaleas are in the Rhodendron family and prefer some shade. They will be stressed a bit more in full sun. I also agree with Jodi- I do little or no pruning to azaleas. Mike
     
  7. BigJim

    BigJim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 382

    Nurseries use growth regulators on them too,thats why they also look nice and compact when you buy them.Certain varieties stay more compact than others too and they are prone to insect attack in hot weather,they prefer a cooler climate.Many of the new vareities come from Europe where they breed them for the disposable house plant market.If your climates right grow them,but they can be hard work to keep looking nice.
     
  8. Mike Bradbury

    Mike Bradbury LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 493

    What zone are you? Here in N Indiana - zone 5- they never fair well. Same with rhododendrens. That's why you see them in the south :)
     
  9. blafleur

    blafleur LawnSite Member
    Posts: 229

    From my understanding of azaleas, it is normal for them to lose a good portion of their leaves in the winter, some more than others. In the nusery they are usually protected more. They should be full again by mid summer. Then in our area of north Texas, a few 100+ degree days will cause another leaf drop.

    Bryan
     
  10. devildog

    devildog LawnSite Senior Member
    from sc
    Posts: 270

    Bobby,

    Based upon what you've posted there may be many elements that are influencing the growth pattern of those your installing. Have you planted them out of the wind and in dappled shade, preferably from a high cover of limbs that will give filtered shade all day. Some varieties will take a few hours of direct sun in the morning, but most need protection from the intense Southern sun.

    You haven't mentioned any drainage issues, Be mindful that sitting in waterlogged soils, they will decline and become susceptible to root rot diseases. It is important to reach a balance between regular, deep watering and good drainage to promote a healthy plant. Planting on a slope / raised bed – a northern slope is preferable to a southern slope. When using rhododendron in a foundation planting, avoid southern exposures. The best place to plant is on the north or east side of a building. They must be must be well-drained and high in organic matter. Organic matter improves drainage in clay soils, mix it into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. The best time to plant is in the fall when the roots have a period to acclimate and prepare for early spring growth. As you know azaleas are shallow-rooted plants and require irrigation during dry periods, especially during the drought conditions we've have for the past few years.

    Theres no comment about your mulch? Is it organic? Organic mulch helps to retain soil moisture around the roots. As it breaks down, mulch provides nutrients for the shrubs and improves the soil texture. Extend the mulch well beyond the outermost branches of the plant. Pull mulch away from the main stem to help prevent disease.

    Frankly, its not a good practice in general to fertilize at planting. Give them a chance at establishing their root system in the landscape soil before applying fertilizer. Once the shrubs are established, have a specific reason, such as increasing the growth rate or correcting a nutrient deficiency, before deciding to fertilize. Maintaining a mulch layer of compost or other organic material over the roots of shrubs will usually provide sufficient nutrients for adequate growth and plant health.

    Have you done a soil sample in this problem area?

    You're description also sounds like a nutrient deficiency? A number of symptoms including stunted growth, smaller than normal leaves, light green to yellowish leaf color and early leaf drop. Be aware that these same symptoms can be caused by other problems such as heavily compacted soil; stresses from insects, disease organisms and weeds; and excessively wet or dry soil. Fertilization will not correct those problems, so be certain that you know the cause of the symptoms and treat them appropriately. I hope these ideas help. with regards... devildog
     

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