My Azalea?

pcanMarch 14, 2011

I am pretty sure this is an Azalea. But please correct me if I am wrong. Admittedly I purchased because I thought it looked cool (2 years ago) and did not pay much attention to the tag. lol

Last year it made it through the winter ok, with a little leaf burn and bloomed in beautiful pink flowers covering the entire plant from about April - May if I remember correctly.

This year it seems to be doing much better. It made it through the winter with no leaf burn and is covered in little flower buds getting ready to bloom.

I love this plant. It has beautiful green leaves in the summer and maroon leaves in the winter. The flowers are extrodinary!

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I forgot to mention if this is an Azalea than it is special. All I here from nursery's is that they wont grow here since our soil is so alkaline. But this one is very happy.

If it is an Azalea, does anyone know what kind it is? I can post pics of the blooms as soon as it opens.

Thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 5:19PM
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mainegrower(Z5b ME)

Looks to be a rhododendron (azaleas are a sub-category of rhododendron)in the PJM group. These usually have lavender/purple(some in the group are pink) flowers very early in the spring, leaves changing with the seasons as you described.

PJM stands for Peter J Mezzitt the original hybridizer at Weston Nursery in MA. They are extremely hardy, very adapatable plants and probably the most widely planted rhododendron in North America.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 5:51AM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

Neither azaleas nor a PJM rhododendron will grow in alkaline soil. The normal technique to get around this is to use a raised bed and put in acidic soil. Some will grow in neutral soil, but none will thrive in alkaline soil.

Another problem you may face is alkaline water. Water from deep wells is usually alkaline. This will eventually affect the soil. If your water is alkaline, use rain water. It is usually naturally acidic.

Second, don't water too much. Wet roots is the chief killer of azaleas and PJM's. It is better to wait until the plant actually becomes slightly distressed before watering rather than risk watering too much. Wilting in the hottest part of a hot day is normal. Wilting in the morning is not normal. If you see that, that is when you water. Also, water deeply not often.

Third, if your plant is doing well because it's roots are still in the soil that came with it from nursery, then you will eventually have a problem as the roots spread. Azalea and PJM roots spread horizontally as the plant gets larger. They are quite shallow. If the leaves start turning yellow with green veins, then the plant is becoming chlorotic and will need to be moved into a raised bed with acidic soil.

Meanwhile you can help the plant by applying powdered sulfur to the ground under the plant. HollyTone is a good fertilizer for acid loving plants and has some sulfur in it. But it should only be applied once in the spring and at half the rate on the package. Additional powdered sulfur may be a good idea. It can be applied any time, but don't over do it.

On my website, click on soil pH and there is a chart on how much sulfur to use. Typically a tablespoon under a plant like you have is sufficient whenever signs of chlorosis appear. I preemptive tablespoon every couple years is a good idea.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 10:32AM
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Thank you thank you! That is very helpful information. I love this plant and would like to keep it alive ;)

I googled photos of the PJM rhododendron and they look exactly like my plant. The flowers are the exact same.

As far as the soil, I have never had mine tested, but we have notoriously high alkaline soil here in the high deserts.

However, when I planted this in summer of 09' I did amend the soil around it with compost, last year I top dressed it with compost and a few weeks ago I top dressed it with peat moss and compost. Maybe that is doing the trick since the roots are shallow.

Thanks again for the help. I will take some more photo's when she blooms.

It really is a site to see :)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 10:40AM
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