Replacement azaleas

workingmomx3(6)April 22, 2009

First off, I am a novice gardener, so please bear with me. I've only recently had the time start working with our landscaping.

Our landscaper put in 3 girard azaleas in August 03 when we relocated to PA. The bed is on the north side of our house and is partially shaded from the afternoon/late afternoon sun. It is not a foundation bed. I started having problems with lace bugs in spring 2007. I had a tree service treat them in 07 and I did it myself in 08. I replaced one azalea in spring 08. This year, the one I replaced is completely dead. The other 2 are mostly gone.

Finally...my question...given my location should I replace with the same type azalea or try a different variety? Or should I try something else entirely? A neighbor, who is a landscaper, told me he has been having problems with girard varieties during the past 2 years and is not using them now. We didn't have time to finish the conversation to find out what he is recommending. I haven't had the time to head out to our local nurseries to see what they are recommending. I thought I would start here and take your ideas to the nurseries to compare with what they are carrying.

Thank you! Off to read more at GardenWeb on the care and feeding of my plants.

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Too much sun can keep away the very beneficial insects that keep lace bugs in check but I doubt that lace bugs by themselves are the reason why the Girard shrubs did not make it. I have not heard of problems with them; they are basically carefree shrubs. Cold hardy too. Have you done a soil test lately? Did the plants suffer because of a drought? Were they planted lower than the surrounding soil?

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 8:50PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

... were they under walnut trees. (they kill azaleas)

Were they mulched. Azaleas have shallow roots and will not compete with grass or weeds and do not like their roots disturbed. They need to be mulched.

Here in the Reading, PA, area, we have had some drought damage. It usually kills individual branches, eventually killing the entire plant.

Were the leaves nice and green, if not you have nutrient problems. Excess nutrients promote larger than normal populations of azalea pests like lace bugs and azalea whiteflies.

Lace bugs are more prevalent on certain varieties. The following azalea cultivars have resistance to azalea lace bug: ´Dawn,´ ´Pink Star,´ ´Ereka,´ ´Cavalier,´ ´Pink Fancy,´ ´Dram,´ ´Seigei,´ ´Macrantha,´ ´Salmon Pink,´ ´Elsie Lee,´ ´Red Wing,´ Sunglow´ and ´Marilee.´ I didn't look to see if they are good in Zone 6.

Here is a link that might be useful: Problems and fixes for rhododendrons and azaleas.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 3:04PM
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workingmomx3(6)

Thanks rhodyman. I'm very near to you so your advice is especially pertinent. What varieties do you have? I've been assuming whatever is sold locally (Spayds, Esbenshades, etc) should be good for Zone 6.

No walnut tree. Only a small plum tree in the same bed.

From what you said, I'm wondering if it was drought damage from the past 2 years in addition to being weakened from the lace bugs. I didn't mulch last year since the mulch was so deep in most of my beds. Additional mulching would have helped. Some of the leaves turned rust brown and whole branched died out. The newest plant died off completely, whereas the other 2 shrubs look like they are almost gone now.

What else should I have done nutrient wise?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 1:46PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

They feed off the decomposing mulch so unless your soil is defficient of minerals, you would not need to add anything. That is why mulching is recommended so much in this forum. I feed them either cottonseed meal or Holly-Tone after they bloom in late March/early April but have skipped feeding them some years as well. You can also apply coffee grounds, Liquid Seaweed and Liquid Fish during the rest of the growing season. But stop all fertilizers by July.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 12:34PM
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workingmomx3(6)

Thanks for the tip about the mulch and fertilizing. I have Holly Tone (I'm not a coffee drinker). I'll be ordering mulch tomorrow so that will be a start.

Believe it or not, but one of the half dead azaleas has bloomed. Once I get my camera back I'll have to take a picture of it. Then I can ask here if it's worth trying to salvage or not. I just hate getting rid of it if it has a chance to make it. I have no other shady spots for it.

Heck, I even have a hard time trimming back my house plants. I don't want to waste the cuttings, but I have no more room for additional plants and my friends don't want them either, lol!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 11:54AM
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